Peace Recruiters in Buffalo, NY
by Green Earth Al (Jan.28.2003)

    As I rode my bike up to Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo I realized something was going on. There was a lot of news media buzzing about. I already knew something was going to be going on, I had received an EMail reminder the night before reminding me to go to Lafayette Square. I had forgotten, however, that there was going to be a lot of press coverage.

The young man from the WNY Peace Center (www.wnypeace.org) took the high ground to make an impassioned appeal for peace while the newsmedia moved in for sound bites.
There definitely was a lot of press coverage though. All three of our local tv stations had dispatched news crews to cover this event. From what I could tell the event was just a demonstration outside the local recruiters office. I knew that some group of individuals somewhere had been planning to enter the recruiting centers and turn it into a Peace Recruiting Center -- after all, we pay for these buildings with our taxes, why then should we not be able to use these buildings that we've bought and continue to fund to recruit a few soldiers for peace?

The press interviews the Buffalo chapter of the NYCLU (www.nyclubuffalo.org)

    As far as I could tell though that plan had not been successful. There were plenty of us outside the recruiting offices but there didn't appear to be anything going on inside. My assumption was that they had simply locked the doors and not allowed the Peace Recruiters in.

    There were plenty of other things going on though. There were speaches against the proposed war in Iraq. There were chants. There was plenty of snow. There was a news camera everywhere you looked. But beyond that there was something I hadn't seen in Buffalo's Peace Movement before: Strong enthusiasm.

The Buffalo Peace People (www.buffalopeacepeople.org) give an interview

    Sure, enthusiasm is a subjective term so who's to say when it is present or isn't? But this was far from the quiet sign bearing Buffalo rallies that I'm used to. This didn't just burn brightly for half an hour and then fizzle out as people wandered back to their cars to escape the cold. This got more and more involving as time went on. There were big puppets and bright costumes and intensity. You could see it in the faces of the people, young and old.

Three individuals penetrated the Air Force recruiting center and turned it into a Peace Recruiting center until the police arrived to arrest them. Here the local media clamors around the door to film the police forcibly removing them.

    Then there was a LOT more fuel added to the intensity fire when the police showed up to the Air Force recruiting office. I learned that three dedicated individuals HAD in fact managed to get inside of the recruiters' offices and staged a sit in until the police showed up to arrest them. People being dedicated enough to peace that they're willing to be arrested? In BUFFALO? CRAZY!

    Watching that had a profound impact on the crowd gathered. I think everyone in attendance rededicated themselves and began thinking about what more could be done to stop those in our nation who are commited to a policy of perpetual war.

Buffalo's own Radical Cheerleaders love to
cheer for peace

    Then along came Buffalo's Radical Cheerleeders. If you've never seen radical cheerleaders before they're sort of like anti-cheerleaders. They don't dress alike, they aren't bubbly and they don't do much in the way of acrobatics. They do some great cheers though that make you stop and think about the seriousness of being at the brink of war.

    Beyond the signs and slogans there was a sense of cameraderie. People in Buffalo's peace movement are beginning to know one another and collaborate and contribute to one another's events. People are contributing what they have to give to the war against the war. Men and women, young and old from all over Western New York.

Here's a picture of the Peace Quilt
(reads: "Peace Now!") and the Peace cookies (all in one shot)

    One wonderful woman was handing out chocolate chip peace cookies in little bags that all had "Hope for Peace" hand written on them. Another kind sir was handing out hot chocolate to the freezing protesters who braved the cold for hours.

    I had been there in the cold, observing, chanting, taking some pictures for a couple hours. I thought for sure that this thing was going to start winding down now. But it was just getting started. Enter, stage left, The Oil Zombies.

    Imagine if you will, a group of about 10 zombies staggering down the middle of the street, drinking oil, and dying every once in a while. It takes a lot of dedication to die repeatedly and then pick yourself up out of a snow bank, drink some oil and die again. This group of the young undead really don't mind staggering out in front of traffic, they're already dead.

    The Media cameras that remained angled for photos of the undead gang that was confounding traffic. They were so thirsty for oil they were trying to get some out of the cars that were stopped. Passers by began to stop and ask questions now. "What are they protesting?" Suddenly we were generating more interest.

These young oil zombies have already died for oil. They'd like to send more young people to die for more oil in a series of neverending wars and escalating violence.

    And the Oil Zombies continued to be much more active and interesting than all of the signs and slogans had been. They wandered back and forth to the different recruiting offices and continually died in the doorway. They would press up against the office windows and drink oil and beg for more. I saw a young man walk out of an army recruiters office and one of the oil zombies pleaded with him to please go overseas and kill some babies so that she could have more oil. The young man tried to look unphased but how can you not think about something like that?

    As the regular protesters began to peter out, the radical cheerleaders and the Oil-zombies formed an aliance of peace-loving young folks and took the demonstration on the road. There is a lot of talk about how young people don't pay attention to politics and events but these young folks did. Their creativity gives a much needed spark of revitalization to the spirit of fighting for peace in Western New York. They along with the individuals willing to be arrested made a real difference.

    The Oil-Zombies and the Radical cheerleaders took the demonstration inside of City Hall and then over to the Erie County Holding Center and then to the Buffalo Federal Building. They walked in the middle of the street everywhere they went and begged passing motorists for oil. Every now and then they stopped to explain what they were doing to a confused onlooker who would ask what was going on. The police became so frustrated with themn tying up traffic that they nearly commited an act of vehicular assault on the youths. Here then is an excellent civics lesson for young people: If you do start caring enough about politics to actually start doing something to speak out, DON'T tie up traffic because the Buffalo Police Department will try to run you over.

"War is Terrorism"

    But then, oddly even the cops came around. Sort of. They tried to break up the Oil-Zombies' impromptu Federal Building demonstration and the Oil Zombies started up a dialog with them over why "Why don't you go get a job?!?" is not a nice thing for police officers to say to civic minded young citizens. And then after the Zombies continued to demonstrate the police even got in on the act. The Zombies chanted "What do we want? PEACE! When do we want it? NOW!" and the police officers mockingly chanted "What do we want? Back Pay! When do we want it? NOW!". Since all of us leftie types are fiercely pro-union the Zombies took that opportunity to let the officers know they were with them on that (in spite of the fact that they had just tried to run them over).

    The Zombies went on to tie up traffic elsewhere and I went home to write this. My feet are still frozen, but my heart has been warmed. Peace is so totally worth fighting for, and we must fight and continue fighting against war. Young American men and women are not expendable and neither are Iraqi civilians.

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