March 15, 2007 — Vol. 42, No. 31
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Turner backs up argument with action against Iraq war

Serghino René

Say this about Chuck Turner: He is stubborn about his opposition to the war in Iraq.

Unfazed by criticisms that Boston city councilors shouldn’t meddle in U.S. foreign policy, Turner held a media conference last week to publicize a resolution that calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Surrounded by community activists, Turner argued that the money being used to support the war by the federal government has short-changed local communities across the country, including Boston, forcing cuts in local and federal funding for schools, housing, youth workers and HIV/AIDS programs.

“I think it is very important that the people of Boston and Massachusetts recognize that for local elected officials to better deal with the issues of education, health care, housing, etc., we need the help of the federal government, a major source of revenue for cities across the country, to operate effectively,” said Turner.

On Feb. 14, the Boston City Council passed by an 8-3 vote a resolution written and introduced by Turner to support troop withdrawals. It also called for a cut in the military budget in order to have the resources for local communities.

Turner said there are city councilors in New York City, Chicago and other cities have proposed similar resolutions and that the Boston City Council has been the only council that has made an effort to bring back the troops.

“It’s one thing to bring the troops home, but if we don’t change our budgetary priorities, we are going to continue to build up more armaments that will be used for war,” said Turner. “New Orleans drastically needs more resources more than the people of Boston. Every city and town in this country needs these resources that are being devoted to the war.”

Turner and his supporters announced their plans to participate in the March 17 march on the Pentagon and encouraged others to attend. A bus will depart from Roxbury Community College on March 16 at 10:30 p.m. to join the expected tens of thousands of people from over 200 cities to protest against the war.

“The fact that we can’t afford to pay our bills, can’t afford to eat, have houses or programs is a problem, and this is happening in America. This is what this war has done to us,” said Mia Campbell of the Women’s Fightback Network. “March 17 will allow us to tell the government that we will not take this any longer. We want the troops to come home, the funding to stop and the money put back into our communities.”

Rev. Bruce Wall was initially skeptical of Turner’s efforts. Wall told the Boston Herald that Turner should focus on “local wars” that exist in some of Boston’s inner city neighborhoods.

“Although I did say that I would prefer that the entire City Council focus on the war going on in our local streets, my comments in no way diminished my respect and admiration for you as a councilor,” Wall stated in a letter to Turner.

“More importantly, it was a learning experience for me to look outside my square box to see the implications of the cost of this war and the direct impact on the community,” Wall added. “For the record, I did read your resolution and I do support your premise that if we did not have to spend the money to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we would have the money to service the people of Boston.”

Mia Campbell of the Women’s Fightback Network (left) and immigrant advocate Rev. Filipe Teixeira (right) listen attentively as City Councilor Chuck Turner (center) reads Rev. Bruce Wall’s statement expressing his opinion on Turner’s resolution opposing the war in Iraq during the press conference held in Boston City Hall’s Piemonte Room. (Serghino René photo)

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