EMEAC Heads to Chicago to Oppose Militarism's Impact on Environment

May 15, 2012

CHICAGO -- On May 20-21, member organizations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will meet in Chicago. Throughout the week before and during, many thousands of people will converge in Chicago to express their concerns about NATO and what it represents: NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between western nations to defend one another against nations they regard as threats to their economic interests. Within this current period of economic and ecological crises, local, national, and global struggles from below are arising across the world. The major response from NATO and the global elite that it represents is increasing repression and militarism, linking more deeply the war abroad and the war at home.
EMEAC is concerned about increased militarism for its social, political, economic and environmental implications. The relationship between militarism and environmental justice is clear according to Executive Director Diana Copeland. She says that "The offensive and defensive role that the U.S. military plays domestically and abroad has significant environmental implications." She goes on to explain that the methods of raw material extraction and production of military weaponry have been responsible for tremendous destruction of indigenous lands and the populations. The testing of weapons and their use during military operations often leaves the earth and water too toxic to safely use for consumption. Further, dangerous materials and unexploded devices often render lands uninhabitable, as expressed by Associate Director Ahmina Maxey.
As part of its concern around war and environmental justice issues, EMEAC is sending four staff members to Chicago to participate on the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance's delegation. Copeland considers this participation to be a step toward continuing the work around climate justice, particularly in figuring out how to work with ally organizations - such as GGJ and the Indigenous Environmental Network - on local, national and global levels to defeat climate injustice.
People will be converging on Chicago to oppose the way that the United States, through NATO, has contributed to the disruption of democratic processes around the world. Many are also protesting the tremendous financial investment in war at a time when many are suffering from joblessness, hunger, lack of medical care and so on. This is what inspired youth organizer Siwatu-Salama Ra to join the delegation. She is concerned about the use of taxpayer money, saying that "funds should go toward building communities instead of destroying them."