As I wrote the other day, I caught up with Code Pink at the May First Immigrant and Labor Solidarity March in San Francisco on Sunday. Their ambitious and laudable plan was to travel via ferry after the march and head up a Strike Against Budget Cuts and March to the State Capital. I talked to Xan Joi, one of the main organizers of the action, and promised to catch up with her throughout their march. So here’s the first installment of that reporting. They’ve been getting very poor media attention along the way, not surprisingly, so I hope that this can do something to alert folks that these people are out there pounding the pavement with a very well articulated message about ending war and corporate give-aways and investing the dividends in humans and infrastructure back at home.
Having traveled from Glenn Cove in support of an indigenous movement there to protect the last shellmound in the area from development, the core group headed to Napa Valley Community College, which is under the threat of heavy budget cuts. Xan pointed out that Napa State Hospital, a mental health facility across the street from the college has also endured severe cuts that have put the lives of both staff and patients at risk [two staff members, according to Xan, have been killed at facility in the last year].
Today, Xan and the others were protesting in front of Bank of America, one of the largest recipients of government largesse over the past few years. One of the main focuses of the group has been to draw attention to the massive giveaways in bail outs to corporations like Bank of America, and the great divide between the wealthy and the working class and poor. The dividends that would be found if just four hundred of the wealthiest Californians paid their taxes at a twenty six percent rate, would provide close to twelve billion dollars for the state.
The human and military cost of the Afghan/Iraq wars to California has been another over-arching theme of the march. Tomorrow the group will travel to Travis Air Force base in Fairfield to draw attention to the cost of war to the state of California. According to Xan, the deployment of the California National Guard cost the state one hundred and fifty eight billion dollars in infrastructure and other costs last year. Xan also drew attention to the human cost in health care for physically and mentally wounded soldiers and in the higher rates of crime that affect returning soldiers.
The demonstration will start at the local high school, where many children of service members and, often, future recruits can be found, before heading out to the base.
By Monday, May 9th, the group plans to reach Sacramento where they will participate in a larger general strike and tent city to protest the misallocation of state resources on war and tax giveaways to the wealthy.
If you want to join the group for the march, or simply hook up with them at one or more of the demonstrations, you can find the route for the demonstration here:www.strikemay2011.com .