For Immediate Release
Veterans For Peace Arrested Occupying Wall Street
WASHINGTON - Six members of VFP's Veterans Peace Team were arrested on Monday, along with some 180 other participants in the nonviolent occupation of Wall Street on the 1-year anniversary of the start of the Occupy Movement. They were: Lenny Bianchi, Ellen Davidson, Tarak Kauff, Jules Orkin, Ramone Puga, and Bev Rice. Other members of Veterans For Peace were among the 180 arrested. They were charged with blocking pedestrian traffic and refusal to obey a lawful order.
VPT organizer Ellen Davidson said, "I'm here because the corporations that run our country are hurtling this planet toward the brink -- we are devastating the environment; our wars-for-profit are destroying people's lives around the globe, and causing young veterans to commit suicide at the rate of 18 a day. If we don't turn this system around -- and soon -- we as a species are doomed, and probably many other species as well."
VFP Board Member Tarak Kauff added, "We are here because there is something desperately wrong with the American corporate way of life, which includes the wars and the exploitation of people and environment for the profit and power of a few at the dire expense of the many."
Monday's abuses of First Amendment rights took place on another anniversary as well: the 225th of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
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Excessive use of force by police toward those in the Occupy movement during the past year has led to arbitrary arrests, a fractured skull for one veteran and a ruptured spleen for another, near-asphyxiation and trampling of peaceful protesters and pepper-spraying of students sitting peacefully on a sidewalk obstructing nothing at all, among many abuses and injuries. The Veterans Peace Team was created to confront and document this abuse of unarmed civilians exercising their First Amendment rights.
VPT's mission is, in part, as follows:
As veterans and as non-veteran citizens standing in solidarity with us, we implore individual officers, police agencies, elected officials and government agencies to use restraint, negotiation and common sense when dealing with peaceful protesters. We will continue our efforts to convince law enforcement to avoid excessive force, brutality and injury to all involved. We also oppose the increased militarization of police agencies. We seek to prevent deaths and additional injuries in domestic protests of governmental policies. We realize that those employed in law enforcement are part of the 99 percent, and we call upon all police personnel not to be a domestic front line force for the 1 percent -- but to honor and perform their duty to serve and protect the people.
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
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Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded in 1985. It is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the country organized in chapters or as at-large members. The organization includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations including from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.