As Blackwater Comes Under Fire in Iraq, Locals Turn Up Heat to Stop Blackwater West
Citizens Oversight (2007-09-27) Raymond Lutz, Carol Jahnkow
This Page: http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M182
More Info: Blackwater, Blackwater West
, Private Mercenaries
Citizens’ Oversight Projects
CONTACT: Raymond Lutz, COPS Coordinator
Carol Jahnkow, Peace Resource Center
760-390-0775 / email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 27, 2007
As Blackwater USA Comes Under Increasing Fire for Actions in Iraq,
Locals Turn Up the Heat to Stop Blackwater West
Residents Organize Largest Protest to Date at the Gates of
Planned Blackwater West Site Near Tiny Border Town
Weekend of Saturday, October 6th – Sunday, October 7th
Rep. Bob Filner Included Among Special Guest Speakers
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA (Sept. 24) – – As US Congress and Iraqi government
officials probe recent killings of civilians by the notorious private
contractors in Baghdad, local opponents to the expansion of Blackwater
USA will stage a major rally and encampment at the gates of the
proposed “Blackwater West” site in Potrero, a tiny town in east San
Diego county on Saturday, October 6th - Sunday, October, 7th.
The event is scheduled the same week Blackwater chairman Erik Prince is invited to
testify before the US House Oversight Committe.
Blackwater USA plans to build a training facility “Blackwater West” in
Potrero, California, a small community in San Diego County 45 miles
east of the City of San Diego. Residents of Potrero and San Diego have
been organizing and began fighting this facility earlier this year on a
number of issues.
This past Monday, Congressman Bob Filner (CA-51) introduced legislation that would require that mercenary training, including paramilitary-style training by federal contractors, be conducted only on property owned by the federal government.
Blackwater USA, a private military security contractor, already operates two private paramilitary-style training facilities: one in Moyock, North Carolina and the other in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Blackwater USA is also seeking to open a third facility in Potrero, California, which is located in Congressman Filner’s district.
Local opponents also point to the environmental impact which they believe will be enormous and
long-lasting, including loss of sensitive habitat, depletion of an
already fragile and shrinking water table, groundwater pollution and
more. In addition, people living in Potrero will be exposed to noise,
traffic and disruption of their quiet way of life.
Blackwater USA, known as one of the most powerful and secretive forces
to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex and one of the
greatest beneficiaries of the “global war on terror,” is increasingly
underfire for acting above the law. The recent killing and wounding of
at least a dozen innocent Iraqi civilians underscores the dangers this
company poses to the community.
“There is no place for companies like Blackwater in a democracy," said
Carol Jahnkow, key organizer and Executive Director, Peace Resource
Center of San Diego. “Destroying communities for profit at the expense
of the environment must stop. Profiting from war and human suffering
“The public is waking up to the atrocities attributed to Blackwater and
to the private mercenary soldier industry now staring us in the face,"
said Raymond Lutz, coordinator of Citizens’ Oversight Projects (COPS)
and Stop Blackwater
.net. “The intimidating nature of these mercenary
boot camps has kept locals from speaking out but, the tides have
changed, when Blackwater USA tried to put in a jungle training camp in
the Philippines they has to pull out after fierce public outcry. We can
do the same here in San Diego County, we are resisting the further
expansion of corporate mercenary armies and unregulated training of
U.S. Armed Forces in residential areas.”
The two-day educational encampment and walk to the gates of the site
are expected to draw hundreds of opponents of the project and to the
expansion of Blackwater West.
The event will start on Saturday, October 6th at 9am with a hike to
visit the Hauser Wilderness which abuts the project site conducted by
the Sierra Club. From 2-5pm, educational seminars will be conducted at
the Potrero Regional Park (see locations details below) and then an
evening of music and spoken word at the rally site from 7-9pm.
Attendees will camp at the Potrero Regional Park campground.
On Sunday, the special guest keynote speakers will make their
presentations starting at 1pm and then the rally will proceed to march
to the gate of the site and to an viewpoint that overlooks the valley.
DETAILS OF THE EVENT:
DAY 1 – ENCAMPMENT AND EDUCATION DAY: Saturday, October 6th
Camping at Potrero Regional Park.
9AM – 2PM: Sierra Club-led Hauser Wilderness Hike – Begins at Potrero
2-5 PM: Educational Workshops and displays on the environment,
Blackwater West impacts on Potrero and the San Diego region, Potrero
area Wildlife, Militarization of the Border and more (Potrero Regional
Park) Speakers include Raymond Lutz (COPS), Jeanette Hartman (Sierra
Club) and Jan Hedlun (Sole member opponent on the Potrero Planning
7-9 PM: Music and spoken word gathering celebrating peace, the
environment and safe, livable communities (will be held on private
property at corner of Round Potrero Road & Yerba Santa. The “Rally
DAY 2--RALLY AND MARCH, Sunday, October 7th
NOON: Music and gathering at the rally site.
1 PM: Special Keynote Speakers (to be announced)
2:30 PM. One Mile Walk to gates of proposed Blackwater site
Location of the Rally is on private property, (corner of Round Potrero
Road & Yerba Santa;)
Sponsored by: the Peace Resource Center of San Diego, the San Diego
Coalition for Peace & Justice, Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPS), San
Diego Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Activist San Diego, San Diego SUN,
San Diego Puppet Insurgency, North County Coalition for Peace &
Justice, San Diego Renters Union, and endorsed by the Green Party, the
Democratic Party of San Diego County, and the East County Democratic
DIRECTIONS: Potrero Regional Park: From San Diego, East on 94. North on
Potrero Valley Rd, Right on Potrero Park Rd. to the end. Rally Site:
23975 Yerba Santa Rd. From San Diego, East on 94. N on Potrero Valley
Rd, Left on Round Potrero Rd. to 23975 Yerba Santa Rd.)