Two anti-war veterans groups, Veterans for Peace and About Face: Veterans Against the War (formerly Iraq Vets Against the War) have issued statements opposing the use of National Guard troops that are being deployed against anti-racist protesters in Minnesota and around the country. They call on Guard members to act on their conscience and stand down. The Military Law Task Force is available to talk with Guard members who want to discuss their options and legal rights in this situation. Contact info.
Veterans for Peace:
Veterans For Peace calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Minnesota National Guard. We are appalled to see military weapons, vehicles and equipment once again deployed in U.S. cities to control community members who are reacting to a long history of state-sanctioned violence. When an already embattled community is subjected to militarized intimidation, by design, their environment becomes a war zone. We call on all those who are serving with the National Guard to refuse to serve violent and racist interests.
Veterans For Peace denounces the ongoing instances of police violence against Black bodies and people of color, this time resulting in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We also stand in opposition to the State of Minnesota’s and the Minneapolis police force’s militarized response to the right to protest.
Learning nothing from the now seemingly endless examples of ineffective attempts to silence protests with militarized violence—from Ferguson to Baltimore to New Orleans to Standing Rock—political figures continue to call on more military to quell the powerful resistance seen from the people in Minneapolis who demand justice. We continue to see the escalation of threats of violence from those in power–from Trump’s tweets threatening to shoot protestors to the governor’s decision to send in the national guard.
As Veterans For Peace, we know that increased militarization in our communities will never bring peace. We know that peace is only achieved with a strong commitment to justice. As veterans who served in various wars, we know there is a connection between increasing racist violence in the United States and the massive indiscriminate killing of hundreds of thousands of people in other lands. Growing racism against black, brown and Muslim people in the United States is a reflection of the racism that justifies killing non-white people abroad. The U.S. military deliberately uses racism to motivate young men and women to kill.
As veterans, we know what it’s like to be called to a “duty” that goes against our conscience. We urge all current National Guard members to lay down their weapons and refuse to fight against their neighbors and fellow community members. We urge you all to be fully informed as you make profound choices with possibly serious consequences. We urge any troops facing possible deployment to Minneapolis or already there to contact the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force at (619) 463-2369 and/or email@example.com for referral to a civilian attorney to discuss your options.
Our nation’s consistent option for militarization and the use of deadly force when it is not needed—at home and abroad—is exactly why we find ourselves in this situation. It makes no sense to think more violence and trauma heaped upon the Minneapolis community will quell the unrest. The Governor has moved beyond using a militarized police force to using the military. He is relying on intimidation and fear to end this. The only thing that will quiet this storm is justice.
Attention Members of the National Guard,
We write you as fellow veterans and service members with full knowledge of what’s at stake as many of you are being asked to mobilize against civilians in your own country. As your neighbors fill the streets demanding the justice this country promised them, your command is undoubtedly telling you that you’re being activated in service to your community. And yet, it is your community members who fill the streets, while your Commander in Chief tweets about using you to murder people over something as insignificant as property damage.
A moral choice lies before you. As veterans who have faced similar tests of conscience, only to realize too late that we chose wrong, we cannot stress enough the impact this decision will have on the rest of your life. We all took an oath to defend the country from enemies foreign and domestic. Are Black protesters the enemy of this country? <strong>Today you have to decide whether you are loyal to the values you swore to uphold or to the commanders who would order you to turn on your neighbors for demanding justice. You cannot be loyal to both.</strong>
We know that it is your intention to be of service and prevent more harm, but we urge you to remember the deadly legacy of the National Guard enacting violence against protesters- Watts in 1965, Kent State in 1970, Los Angeles in 1992, and many other examples in recent history.
The military is designed to be lethal, not to de-escalate.
We urge you to have the courage to do the right thing. Refuse activation orders.
No amount of property is worth a single human life. Are you really prepared to carry out the violence President Trump threatened against Minnesotans and others? We ask that you stand up for Black lives by standing down. We know the consequences you may face for disobeying orders. Many of us have faced them ourselves. And many of us live with the consequences of following orders we shouldn’t have, and can tell you that the cost of moral injury is far greater.
There is a long legacy of troops choosing what’s right over what’s ordered. You are not alone in your convictions. To discuss your rights and the options available to you, contact the GI Rights Hotline at 1–877–447–4487. You can also connect with veterans ready to support you as peers and stand with you in your decision by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Veterans for Peace