Blackwater USA Faces Congress and Wrath of Tiny CA Town
Citizens Oversight (2007-10-02) Raymond Lutz, Carol Jahnkow
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Carol Jahnkow, Peace Resource Center
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 2, 2007
Tiny California Town Plans Protest as Erik Prince Chairman of Blackwater USA Is Scheduled to Testify in Front of US Congressional Committee
For the First Time Local Residents Take Battle to the Gates of Proposed Blackwater West Site in Rural Border Town of Potrero
Congressman Bob Filner Included Among Guest Speakers for Weekend of Saturday, October 6th – Sunday, October 7th
POTRERO, CA (Oct. 2) – – As US Congress Committee on Oversight and Government holds hearings on the use of private security contractors in Iraq--including testimony from Blackwater USA Chairman Erik Prince--local opponents of Blackwater USA are planning a major rally, for the first time at the gates of the proposed Blackwater West site, on Saturday, October 6th through Sunday, October, 7th.
The 824 acre mercenary training base is planned for Potrero, a rural town of about 850 in population, 45 miles east of city of San Diego.
Congressman Bob Filner
(CA-51) who last week 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 will be one of the featured speakers of the weekend's event.
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 seeking to open a third facility in Potrero, California, which is located in Congressman Filner’s district.
Local opponents 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. Members of Potrero Planning Group, who voted last year in support of Blackwater's land-use proposal are now facing recall.
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, event 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 must stop.”
“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, 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 culminate with the largest gathering 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 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 speakers will make their presentations starting at 1pm and then a march to the gate of the proposed Blackwater West site and to an viewpoint that overlooks the valley.
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 Club.
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.)
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE EDITORIAL
September 27, 2007
The war in Iraq and the war in Potrero
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
September 27, 2007
Letters to the Editor
Blackwater USA versus residents of Potrero