Thursday, May 20, 2010

05-20-10 West Point peace rally May 22


A coalition of peace activists from at least four Hudson Valley counties will march to the south gate of West Point Saturday, May 22, while President Obama prepares to address the Military Academy graduating class in nearby Michie Stadium.

After this presidential sendoff, nearly all the graduates will end up fighting in the ongoing wars initiated by the U.S. government, just as the Afghan war is being widened to Pakistan and Yemen.

Antiwar organizers urge all Hudson Valley opponents of these wars to join this important protest. "If we don't take a stand now," says the Activist Newsletter, "it seems as though continuing and new wars are inevitable. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said as much Feb. 1 when he declared that 'Success in wars to come will depend on success in these wars in progress.' The way to stop the wars to come is to oppose the wars in progress."

The antiwar events begin at 10 a.m. with a rally in Highland Falls at Veterans Park on Main St. (Rt. 218) and Veterans Way, followed by a march to the Thayer Gate. After a brief rally, the marchers will then return to the park for some final words. The main demands will be to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and to invest the saved taxpayer dollars in financing jobs, education and other needs to benefit the American people.

A right-wing, pro-war demonstration will also be taking place in Highland Falls Saturday.

The pro-peace demonstration was initiated by the Orange County Democratic Alliance (OCDA). Local groups endorsing the demonstration so far include (alphabetically) Dutchess Greens, Dutchess Peace Coalition, Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Hudson Valley BDS, Middle East Crisis Response, No War Westchester, OCDA, Orange County Peace and Justice, Peace and Social Progress Now, the Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, WESPAC, and the Woodstock Chapter of Veterans For Peace. National endorsers include the ANSWER Coalition, CodePink, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and World Can't Wait.

The OCDA and several of these same groups organized a peaceful protest that drew 300 people to Highland Falls and the Thayer Gate Dec. 1 when President Obama went to West Point to deliver a speech informing the American people that he was expanding the Afghan war.

If you plan on joining the peace protest, leave extra time to arrive at Highland Falls because of heavier morning traffic on 9W associated with the military graduation beginning several from the Academy. From New Paltz, for instance, it's best to leave by 8 a.m. to arrive by 10, just in case.

DIRECTIONS: Highland Falls is about 32 miles south of New Paltz and 16 miles south of Newburgh. Driving from the north, Rt. 9W is your best bet. There are two entrances to the town from 9W. From the north the first one is where Rt. 218 cuts into Highland Falls and it will take you directly (after 1.1 miles) to Main St. and Veterans Way, where Veterans Park is located. (If you are coming from further north it may be quicker to take the Thruway to exit 17 Newburgh, and switch to 9W south.) If you approach from the south, there's another entrance about a mile and a half below the first which connects directly with Main St. (Rt. 218) which you take for a mile or so to the park.

If you are driving from the north and are interested in car-pooling, contact Jack Smith at or call (845) 255-5779. The OCDA has arranged for a van to transport MetroNorth passengers from the Peekskill station to Highland Falls and back. For information, Michael Sussman at (845) 294-3991. For other information, Bennett Weiss at (845) 569-8662,