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LOCAL Commentary :: Activism : Baltimore MD : Economy : War in Iraq

Locals Protest 'Vulture Capitalists' and the Iraqi War

On March 19, 2007, the Baltimore City Council unanimously approved a Resolution condemning the Iraqi War, the lies that got us into it, George W. Bush’s insane “Surge,” and demanded the troops be “safely” withdrawn from that conflict. On that same night, a Peace Rally was held at St. Vincent de Paul RC Church. The Rev. Heber Brown III said: “It’s time for us to raise hell for peace in our churches.” The event was sponsored by the local UPJ group.
Rev. Heber Brown III.jpg
Locals Protest Vulture Capitalists and the Iraqi War

“It is the common people, who must, under God, save us.” - Sam Adams, patriot and rebel against British rule in America. (1)

Baltimore, MD - The goldfish in our pond had a pretty rough time this winter. The great blue heron, a majestic bird, which is usually found on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, was eating them for dessert. I would chase the herons away, whenever I could, but they kept coming back, and back, until they got them all, except a few too small to bother with. If you’re the low creature on the food chain, like the goldfish, your fate isn’t pretty. As a metaphor, the story of bird-eats-fish fits in with the present state of our America. Today’s America is a place where the ethos of the Vulture Capitalists reigns supreme.

It began with the presidency of that pious hypocrite and Enron-enabler, Ronald Reagan, and it has continued under the predatory, war-profiteering Bush-Cheney Gang. Tragically, it has transformed our country into society where the idea of promoting “the general welfare” is no longer a noble goal of the Republic. (2) By way of example, I stopped to gas up my car, at $2.72 a gallon, the other day. A senior citizen was in the next lane, doing the same thing. I asked her if her father had ever said to her when she was much younger: “The world is going to hell!” And, if she now believes that her dad was “a prophet?” Well, I tell you, she gave me an earful!

“My gas and electric bill was $500 last month,” she said, “and that is without that damnable ‘74 percent’ increase which is being phased in this summer. I live on a fixed income. I’m sixty-nine years old and I have to work to just keep up. Now, they are raising the real estate taxes through the ceiling, thanks to that stupid ‘assessment’ system. As for that George Bush, he belongs in jail for what he has done in Iraq--wasting all those lives and billions of dollars, too. We need a revolution in this country. The people should march on Annapolis and Washington!” So speaks a concerned senior citizen!

I told her to keep spreading the word about the war and Bush. As for those fakers in Annapolis, who were responsible for deregulating the electric industry, I say: “Shame on them!” A few years back, the General Assembly of Maryland caved into the grasping Wire Pullers, and voted to deregulate the electric industry. As a result, a huge rate increase will take effect this summer. The General Assembly, however, can begin to redeem itself by urging the state’s new Attorney General to join in a lawsuit challenging, under federal law, its own ill-advised decision to permit the deregulation of the industry. And by the way, why didn’t Joe Curran, the ex-Attorney General, and MD’s Governor Martin O’Malley’s father-in-law, join in that law suit? (3)

On hearing my fellow gas-pumper’s irate words, I recalled the rebellious career of Massachusetts’ Sam Adams, John Adams’ cousin. During the colonial period, Sam was a member of the “Sons of Liberty.” His every deed dealt with getting the Brits out of America--permanently. He was 24/7 kind of rebel. It’s hard to see how there could have been an America Revolution without the remarkable Sam Adams and the “Sons of Liberty” boy-ohs. (1)

We don’t have Sam Adams and the “Sons of Liberty” around anymore to raise unholy cain on our behalf, so we have to learn do it for ourselves. And get this: It’s the Baltimore City Council, who is showing the way on the issue of the Iraqi War. It sprang into action on March 19, 2007. It passed a Resolution entitled, “Bring the Troops Home.” It strongly condemned the war in Iraq and the lies that got us into it; opposed Bush’s insane “Surge” strategy; and demanded that our troops be “safely” withdrawn. It also underscored how the American people had “overwhelmingly” voted on Nov. 7, 2006, to end the Iraqi war. The measure passed the City Council unanimously. It was signed into law by the Mayor of Baltimore, the Honorable Shelia Dixon. (4)

Also, on March 19th, there was an antiwar rally at St. Vincent de Paul RC church, the oldest Catholic parish in continuous service in town. It was sponsored by the local “United for Peace and Justice,” (UPJ), group. St. Vincent stands just east of Baltimore’s beautiful City Hall. The City Hall was build in a French baroque revival style, however St. Vincent’s has a pure Neoclassical look. The UPJ is led by Jim Baldridge, among other activists. (5) Virginia Rodino served as the moderator for the lively event, which featured the musical talents of David Rovics (6), Mat Callahan and Yvonne Moore (7), William Ellison and Tim Wheeler.

The rally was captioned: “Baltimore Speak-Out for Peace in Iraq.” The Rev. Heber Brown III brought the large audience to its feet when he said: “It’s time for us to raise hell for peace in our churches...For too long, we’ve taken our cues from political types...Each of us...whatever you call God knows that God does not condone this barbaric act of war.” (8) Father Richard Lawrence, pastor of St. Vincent, said at the protest: “People are turning against this war because it hasn’t worked...But, we’re not here because it hasn’t work. We’re here because it isn’t right!” Rev. Lawrence said he was thinking of going into the T-shirt business and selling one that reads: “Reagan Was Right! Empires Are Evil.” He added that our country shouldn't be allowed to become an evil empire. (9)

The Labor Movement had one of its finest sons at the affair--Fred Mason. He’s the President of the Maryland/DC AFL-CIO. Mason believes the Peace Movement “will prevail in the end,” but that we have to keep “the pressure up.” (10). Other making telling points during the evening programs were: Chuck Michaels, Ed Boyd, Dean Pappas, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Rod Ryon, Ellen Barfield, Maria Allwine, Revah Hawkins, Rev. Pierre Williams, Cindy Farguhar, Bob Heiniger, Donna Blackwell and Tim Wheeler. (11)

Barry Kissin came to Baltimore from Frederick, MD, about 50 miles due west of town, to attend the City Council session and the rally. He praised the enthusiasm of the Peace community in Baltimore. In his opinion: “The situation [in Washington] is really very dire.” The Bush-Cheney Gang has a “separate agenda and it really is an ‘evil’ one and [meanwhile] all of the needs [of the people] are going unmet and they are going to multiply...The folks we have given power to don’t care about peace...Martin Luther King was killed by this power structure... Robert F. Kennedy was killed by the power structure...Paul Wellstone [ex-U.S. Senator from Minnesota] didn’t die in an airplane crash caused by an ice storm. It’s not true...What the Democrats are doing right now [in the Congress] is beyond corrupt...beyond stupid...How could they give these ‘criminals’ another $100 billion dollars?” (12)

Finally, the people are, indeed, stirring. They are going to have to work harder, however, if they want to bring about any real change in this blocked society, where the phonies in the Congress continue to fund the war. I think the people could use a jolt of inspiration. What about if they recaptured the spirit of the Sons of Liberty? (1) I think that is a good place as any to start the process. It will also surely please the ghost of that splendid champion of freedom--Sam Adams.


1. “Sam Adams: Pioneer in Propaganda” by John C. Miller.
2. The term is found in “The Preamble,” of the U.S. Constitution.
3. “Is Deregulation of Electricity Illegal?” by Marjorie Kelly and Richard Rosen, Baltimore Sun, March 27, 2007.

© William Hughes 2007.

William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at

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