On March 20, the 18th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, twenty people gathered in front of the White House. Together they called on Congress and President Biden to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the law that enabled the invasion in the first place.
The Rally to Repeal was organized by the Washington, D.C. Advocacy Team—a local group supported and trained by FCNL—in collaboration with the veteran-led organization Common Defense. Advocates called on Congress to reclaim authority over when the U.S. goes to war.
“In Black and Brown communities around this country, people don’t have clean water to drink,” said Kyle Bibby, the National Campaigns Manager at Common Defense, in a speech at the event. “But the Department of Defense has every bomb and weapon they could imagine for wars in Black and Brown communities on the other side of the world. We have to demand our elected leaders set better priorities.”
The rally began with a moment of silence and, in the spirit of Quaker worship, the team welcomed anyone moved to speak to share their own reasons for advocating to end endless wars.
Holding “War is Not the Answer” signs, the event drew public attention to an issue many Americans know little about. Across the country, other FCNL Advocacy Teams organized a simultaneous “Twitter storm” urging Congress to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF in solidarity with the D.C. team.
“[This rally] gave us a sense of what we can accomplish, and it was inspiring to draw people together,” said FCNL Advocacy Team member Alex Hall, one of the rally’s lead organizers.
Building Power Without Representation
As FCNL’s National Field Organizer, I worked closely with D.C. residents to launch and train the D.C. Advocacy Team in January 2021, just a week after the siege of the U.S. Capitol Building.
For years, FCNL has wanted to start an Advocacy Team in the District. The challenge for a grassroots program that supports people to lobby Congress, was the desire to make this work feel meaningful and fulfilling — even for constituents who are denied voting representation.
Despite this, we knew it was important for D.C. residents to have a voice and a role in FCNL’s powerful grassroots network. We trusted there would be unique opportunities for a group based in the nation’s capital to speak truth to power firsthand.
The issue of D.C. statehood is not only a civil rights issue, but it is deeply connected to FCNL’s work to curb U.S. militarism. In the summer of 2020, the U.S. military was deployed in Washington, D.C. by President Donald Trump, despite objections from Mayor Muriel Bowser. The violence peaceful protesters experienced is directly linked to the struggle for statehood.
The rally came at a critical moment, a week after the bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate, and only five days before the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted in favor of the bill. Grassroots advocacy, and the persistent efforts of Advocacy Teams across the country, continue to play a pivotal role in the momentum to end endless wars.
Join us! To learn how you can connect with a local FCNL Advocacy Team in your community, go to www.fcnl.org/advocacyteams.