Boston City Council Attacked
after Passing Antiwar Resolution

By Phebe Eckfeldt

The Boston City Council passed a resolution on Feb. 14 calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The resolution also stated that the billions of dollars being spent on war have been taken from “programs that poor and working people desperately need—jobs, healthcare, housing and education.” It called for a reallocation of these funds in order to meet the needs of poor and working people.

The resolution supported the March 17 Washington, D.C. demonstration and march on the Pentagon as an expression of the desire of people in the U.S. for funding for human needs and not war and to see the troops brought home.

This historic resolution was written and introduced by African-American City Councilor Chuck Turner and co-sponsored by Felix D. Arroyo, Charles C. Yancey, Sam Yoon (who are all councilors of color and call themselves “Team Unity”) and Michael Ross. It was passed 8-3.

The resolution makes a direct connection between the war abroad and the war at home against poor and working people and especially communities of color. Turner represents some of the most oppressed sectors of Boston, which are hardest hit by the budget cuts. Cuts in local and federal funding for such things as repairs to schools, Section 8 vouchers, the Boston Housing Authority, affordable housing subsidies, youth workers and HIV/AIDS programs are all detailed in the resolution.

When news of the resolution’s passing hit the newspapers and TV, it was hotly debated across the city for several days. Turner was attacked by forces who said that the Boston City Council had no right to debate U.S. foreign policy. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald accused Turner of “wasting his time on the Iraq resolution, as dozens die violently in his Hub City Council district.”

But activists across the city hailed Turner’s courageous stand and call for action, as well as the statement making the critical connection between ailing human needs programs and the increasing Pentagon budget. The heart of the resolution was embodied in a quote in the last clause of the resolution which states, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in February 1967, “The security we profess to seek in foreign adventures we will lose in our decaying cities. The bombs in Viet Nam explode at home: they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America. Poverty, urban problems and social progress generally are ignored when the guns of war become a national obsession.”

Workers World, March 1, 2007