Friday, November 25, 2005

Baltimore Council Calls For End To War In Iraq

Baltimore Council Calls For End To War In Iraq
Resolution Urges Governor To Withdraw Guard Troops

POSTED: 11:55 am EST November 22, 2005
UPDATED: 4:18 pm EST November 22, 2005

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore City Council wants an end to the war in Iraq.

WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Barry Simms reported Monday evening that the City Council approved what it called a homeward bound a resolution Monday night that's aimed at ending the war with Iraq and stopping the deaths of Maryland troops.

The resolution comes the same day that a report ranked Baltimore sixth among the most dangerous American cities (Full Story).

The president has talked of staying the course in the fight against terrorism, but as war continues in Iraq, Baltimore's City Council wants the White House and Congress to move in a different direction.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, D-District 14, is leading the charge with other council members unanimously supporting the resolution.

"For the purpose of urging President Bush and the United States Congress to commence a humane, orderly and immediate and comprehensive withdrawal of United States military personnel and bases from Iraq," Clarke said.

Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., D-District 11, had opposed a similar council resolution in 2002, but he said Monday night that he decided now is the time for the city to speak up.

Mitchell said he was influenced by the deaths of soldiers from Baltimore and Maryland, including a Marine whom he once taught in high school.

The members praised service members fighting in Iraq, saying its action isn't against them, it's against the war.

"We support the soldiers," said Councilman Jim Kraft, D-District 1. "It's about an ending a tragic, tragic overseas adventure."

The members consider the war as a foreign adventure that has a significant local impact. They believe too many Marylanders and other Americans have lost their lives.

Simms said some members are upset because they say those who oppose the war have faced verbal attacks from the Bush administration.

"The president speaks of making the world safe for democracy, and et, he appears to have utter contempt for those who choose to exercise democracy," Kraft said.

"I think its time we speak out as citizens even louder than what we have been saying," City Council President Sheila Dixon said.

The council hopes the stand its taking on the local level will help change national policy.

"This is about calling from the grassroots, 'enough, enough, come home," Clarke said.

"This is not foreign policy," said Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, D-District 5. "This is hitting us locally."

The resolution also calls on Gov. Bob Ehrlich to withdraw Maryland National Guard members.

Gubernatorial spokesman Paul Masoni said the governor can't do that because the guard is federalized.

He said the governor appreciates the council's stance. The spokesman also said, "The governor appreciates their stance and hopes they will turn their attention to things they can control."

Sharesse DeLeaver, a gubernatorial spokeswoman, told the Associated Press that the council should be more focused on the city's "failing schools" and high crime rate.

Myles Hoenig, a community activist who asked Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke to introduce the resolution, said the Republican Party should not be so dismissive of a resolution that he believes represents a groundswell of opposition.

"Tell them (Republicans) to join the Army and stand behind their words," Hoenig said.

The council's action is similar to resolutions passed in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and Sacramento, Calif.

The Baltimore City Council has previously passed resolutions demanding the right of self-determination for the Lithuanian people, condemning slavery in Mauritania, criticizing the repression of the Ahmadiyya religious movement by the Pakistani government, and calling for the end of violence in Northern Ireland and apartheid in South Africa.

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