City Council Holds Hearing on Anti-War Resolution

by Kay Dellinger

During the hearing, The Sun was criticized for its editorial opposing the resolution. No Sun reporter was present to respond.
The Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee of the Baltimore City Council held a public hearing on a Resolution called "In Opposition to a Declaration of War Against Iraq" on Wednesday, November 20 in City Hall. This Resolution, no. 02-0944, which opposes the United States going to war with Iraq, was introduced by Councilmember Kwame Abayomi.

The Judiciary Committee Chairman, Robert Curran, chaired the hearing. Councilmember Abayomi made opening remarks and spoke against a recent editorial in the Baltimore Sun on November 13 that contained sarcastic language ridiculing the council for taking up a resolution about war.

Chairman Curran said that he wanted to alternate between people speaking for and against the resolution, but this arrangement could not occur because no one who signed up to speak opposed it.

A range of thoughtful views were presented during the public comment period. Statements were made about international law and constitutional rights, about the suffering of the Iraqi people under economic sanctions, and the cost of war and weapons and the social needs of Americans that aren't being met. Speakers talked about poverty in Baltimore and in Iraq, as well as other countries, and the huge gap between the rich and the poor, and about the immorality of one percent of the people controlling most of the nation's wealth. They discussed the horrific effects of depleted uranium that the U.S. used in the Gulf War and the killing of thousands of innocent civilians in war. The speakers called for peace, for social justice and for eliminating poverty.

William Hughes, a Baltimore attorney and author, and R.B. Jones, a Baltimore Times columnist, both castigated the Sun for its demeaning editorial.

Curran asked if any reporter from the print media was there, and no one responded. He commented that the Sun wasn't covering the hearing and therefore, wouldn't obtain information about how Baltimore residents view the resolution.

Eric Gustafson of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center came from Washington, D.C. to present data about the deplorable conditions in Iraq. Over the last ten years Iraq has become a poor country that cannot provide clean water and basic sanitation for its citizens. Representing the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Joan Parr pointed out that the League is the oldest women's peace organization. It was founded in 1915 during World War I.

Fifty people attended the hearing and 28 spoke; all were in favor of the resolution. Curran commented that it was the only hearing he had attended where people remained to listen after speaking.

The hearing lasted over two hours and was televised live on public access cable channel 21 and was shown again the next day.

Ten other council members sponsored the resolution with Abayomi. Takoma Park, Maryland and Washington, D.C. have already passed similar anti-war resolutions and so have at least fifteen other cities.

Abayomi also hosted a Town Meeting on Wednesday, November 27 at City Hall, so that Baltimore residents could express their views about a war with Iraq and the impact it would have on their lives.

Copies of the resolution are available from the Council's Executive Secretary by calling (410) 396-1697.

Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on December 4, 2002.