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12,000 march in Atlanta to kickoff first US Social Forum

David Solnit, Courage to Resist. July 9, 2007

The broadest gathering of GI resistance and GI resistance solidarity related groups and activists since the Vietnam War took place as part of the first ever US Social Forum in Atlanta, Georgia June 27 – July 1.

More than forty people from 30 organizations involved in GI resistance support work got to meet each other, share what they can offer, what they need, and what they are hungry for. Discussions of ways to stay in touch, coordinate support work, days of actions, and resources will continue. It was a huge step forward in building a stronger network needed for the growing GI resistance and solidarity movement.

Initiated by Courage to Resist, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Catalyst Project, the session included folks from Veterans for Peace, Peace Action, NYC Indymedia, Center on War and Conscience, GI Rights Hotline, Payday/Refusing to Kill, War Resisters League, Women of Color Resource Center, Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), SmartMeme Training and Strategy Project, Paxpeace Coalition, Global Exchange, San Diego Military Counseling Project, Teen Peace Project, National Lawyer Guild, Military Project, Port Militarization Resistance, Western Mass Social Forum, and many more.

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The US Social forum was the first time US social change movements have come together, as movements have globally within the World Social Forum process. 12,000 people participated, a majority seemed to be youth and people of color. GI resisters were featured in numerous panels on anti-war organizing and strategy. Anti-war Iraq Army veteran Eli Painted Crow spoke as part of the main Social Forum Plenary to thousands. Perhaps most significantly, Iraq Veterans Against the War led a packed forum that featured unveiling their new "Theory of Consent" anti-war strategy (check out Kelly Dougherty explaining it on YouTube).

The World Social Forum is an ongoing process and series of gathering to build networks, discuss alternatives and increase the cooperation and strength of social movements to better stand up to corporations and governments at the root of many social and ecological problems.

Also: Photos by Courage to Resist’s Lori Hurlebaus of the kickoff march