June 15th, 2009
The Bellingham Sanctuary Movement is facing a big challenge. In her op-ed, Sanctuary city Pro: Support for troops should mean all of them, published June 13 in the Bellingham Herald, Marie Marchand, executive director of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, writes:
Given Bellingham’s reputation, it is an especially stinging affront that four AWOL soldiers of conscience have been housed in our jail. Most of us in this city consider people like Robin Long and Cliff Cornell heroes for their refusal to bear arms and kill. … As it stands, law enforcement is under no obligation to report AWOL soldiers to the military. We are asking our city to abstain from doing the military’s job. These individuals have broken no law. Our local resources should not be spent on their apprehension and detention.On October 9, 2006, Bellingham became the first city in the state of Washington to pass a Troops Home! Resolution. The issue now is a sanctuary resolution. “The ordinance is not about adjudication” states Marie Marchand in her op-ed. “The Sanctuary City Movement … is not asking police to break the law.” Tim Carpenter, a Whatcom County resident and Vietnam veteran who wrote the opposing view, Sanctuary city Con: Sanctuary idea would do more harm than good, has a different take on the question of law:Federal law provides, under the category of Treason, Sedition and Subversive Activities, that it is a crime for any person to advise, counsel or urge insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny or refusal of service; to conspire to commit those acts; or to harbor any person who commits such an act. Does the city council’s involvement facilitate and abet treason?He attempts to paint proponents of the sanctuary resolution as “emotional rather than rational” and finds that their arguments “rely on unsubstantiated statistics, or attempt to reach a logical conclusion built upon an inherently false premise”. He really doesn’t cite anything to support this, just innuendo.
On the issue of Free Speech (around which Ithaca’s Sanctuary Resolution turned) he writes that “This is not a ‘free speech’ issue. The right of free speech is not absolute. Speech that advocates the commission of a crime is not protected.”The attendant legal questions appear to be the most productive ones to pursue, and it would be well worth the effort for sanctuary supporters in the Ithaca area to engage in the debate in Bellingham not only out of solidarity, but also to hone our own arguments for what may lie ahead. It is easy to imagine a similar scenario developing in Ithaca were war resisters jailed here, or were the city sanctuary resolution strengthened to explicitly instruct law enforcement not to arrest anyone on the basis of their military status when had not broken the law. (As an aside, I recall that Trevor Loope was arrested in St. Lawrence County on bogus charges of bounced checks, not for being AWOL). It would be really good to solicit wider legal opinion on this debate over what the law requires.Wing-nuts seem to dominate the story chat on the Bellingham Herald (just like in Ithaca). It only takes a few minutes to register in order to comment. Please consider doing so.
You can follow posts on the website/blog of Veterans For Peace Corporal Jonathan Santos Memorial Chapter 111 in Bellingham. –Cris McConkey
-thanks to Cris McConkey at Tompkins County Against War & Occupation
If you are interested in discovering the essence of this "wing-nut" ranting you might try the Facebook page for the Bellingham GI Sanctuary City. Although it's frustrating attempting to discuss with rude individuals who make up things that you said (even though it's all in the record to check ), you will have an opportunity to see what you're up against. I tried to discuss the issue and learn about the the opposition's arguments, but it seems like a useless endeavor. They only continue to trash resisters and people who support them.
However, there is a whole community of resister supporters out there and if you can just hold your breath, by-pass the narrow-focussed, hostile individuals and share ideas with those who came to share, jump in.