Stand for Peace
Stand for Peace returns to the corner every Friday with a renewed commitment to end the war. We stand on the corner of 14th and Peachtree Streets from 12:00 - 1:00 pm each Friday. We have lunch and discussion afterward in the Colony Square Food Court. We will continue to stand every Friday until the war ends in Iraq and the troops are sent home from Afghanistan.
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Thousands of people have stood at this corner since 2002. Most are residents of metropolitan Atlanta, but others attend from around the state, the Southeast region, the country at large, and from other countries. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA) and John Conyers (MI) have stood with us along with leading progressives of the Atlanta community such as State Senator Nan Grogan Orrock, attorney Janice Mathis of Rainbow PUSH, civil rights leaders Dr. Rev Joseph E. Lowery, Rev Timothy McDonald, and “Every Church a peace Church’s” Don Edwards, Rev Walter Baldwin and Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (co founder of Pax Christi-US)
Georgia WAND continues to assume responsibility to maintain a constant presence at 14th & Peachtree. The women’s Peace organization (www.georgiawand.org) also organizes larger anniversary gatherings every last Friday in August. On those annual occasions hundreds of people gather to recommit to another year of standing for peace, protesting our country’s attempt to engage us in other wars, and challenging the growing community of Atlanta peacemakers to work even harder to bring our troops home and end the violence in Iraq.
Although individuals with somewhat different agendas have joined the Stand for Peace protest over the past years, Georgia WAND and other peace and justice organizations hold fast to our original intent: to peacefully, passionately, and openly protest the United States wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
History of Stand for Peace
Georgia WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions) began the Stand for Peace on August 29, 2002 at the corner of 14th and Peachtree in Atlanta with the hopes of influencing then U.S. Senator Zell Miller to vote against possible U.S. attacks on the people of Iraq. Senator Miller’s Atlanta headquarters were located on the 2nd floor of the towering Colony Square office and retail complex overlooking the busy Midtown intersection where 25 people first peacefully assembled to urge their Democratic senator to help since the administration’s drumbeats for war.
The Friday peace rally was planned from noon to 1 pm to enable people to come on their lunch breaks. Individuals from communities of faith, war veterans, and leaders of Atlanta’s progressive community joined together with signs of protest expressing one main sentiment: NO WAR ON IRAQ!
Protesters also went into Colony Square to visit Senator Miller’s offices, sign his guest book, and leave messages or letters imploring him to reconsider support for US military engagement in Iraq. Senator Miller refused to meet with anyone. These original protesters decided to meet again the next week, and the next, and the next in an attempt to bring more public attention to the dangers of the Bush administration’s rapidly escalating plan for preemptive strikes on Iraq. Leaflets were handed out to pedestrians and drivers asking them to call their members of congress to investigate claims that Iraq had and was planning to use Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and to sustain UN inspections and engage in diplomacy rather than spend billions of dollars and lose untold numbers of lives to a protracted war in Iraq.
Quaker and WAND member Joe Parko, compiled a list of questions for Senator Miller to answer. Hoping to engage in a face-to-face meeting with their Senator, Parko and four other committed peace activists (Beth LaVoie, Carol Bass, Randy Aronov, and Courtney Siceloff) visited Miller’s office and refused to leave until Miller’s staff agreed to schedule an appointment for them to se their senator. They were peacefully arrested, went to jail, were released, appeared in court, and given individual sentences of eight hours of community service. They became known as The Atlanta Five.
Senator Miller, in the meantime, voted to support President Bush and his war plans. Stand for Peace continued its weekly presence at the corner of 14th & Peachtree as more and more people flocked to the corner with urgent signs of protest. As March 19, 2003 approached, protesters shared a sense of dread. U.S. warplanes officially attacked Iraq on that day, missing their designated “military targets” while massively striking women and children (90% on initial bombings). Stand for Peace members re-evaluated their efficacy after war in Iraq began and decided to continue their presence at the corner of 14th and Peachtree using the Friday hour to educate citizens on the Iraqi situation since they firmly believed that the media was doing an inadequate job and had, indeed, succumbed to fear and bought into the misguided rationale for war in Iraq.