Benji Lewis: War Resister

It’s not every day that somebody in our community makes an enormous personal sacrifice in order to stand up for their beliefs.

That’s why the Rural Organizing Project has decided to co-sponsor a Speakers Tour featuring war resister Benji Lewis from Corvallis.

Benji served 4 years on active duty in the Marine Corps, including two combat tours in Iraq. He was given an honorable discharge, moved to Corvallis, got a part-time job, and enrolled at LBCC. Last October he got a letter notifying him that he was being involuntarily recalled to active duty, and would be sent back to Iraq again. Instead of just ignoring the notification, Benji reported to the screening muster as directed to document that he was fit for recall. He now has orders to report to Camp Pendleton on May 18th. He wants to make a political point by going through the process to show that he could serve, but that he is going to refuse to serve. On May 18th, instead of reporting for duty, he will be holding a press conference at the Corvallis Library at noon to publicly announce his resistance.

Until that time, Benji would like to speak to as many groups as possible across Oregon to educate them about the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) system that allows for involuntary reactivation, GI rights, and resistance in general, and to gather support and attention for his resistance. 10,000 members of the Marine Corps alone, are being recalled to active duty every year. Benji wants to let people know about this.

Many of you have already responded with interest in hosting the tour, and ROP member and friend Leah Bolger has been hard at work coordinating. So far, these are the tentative stops that she has set up:

Apr 16—Olympia Washington, Evergreen College

Apr 24—Portland, Meek High School, afternoon

Apr 25—St Helens, Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity

Apr 26—Corvallis (Peace Jam workshop), 1:00 pm

Apr 26—Forest Grove, Propstra Creamery Bldg, 2017 21st Ave, 7:00 pm
Contact: Ellen Hastaye, Washington County Citizens for Human Dignity, hastaye@pacificu.edu

April 27—Eugene, Cozmic Pizza, 8th and Charnelton, 5:30pm
Contact: Carol Van Houten, Counter Military Recruitment Committee, ckvanhouten@comcast.net

Apr 30—Albany, noon

May 1—Ashland, Ashland Library, 1:00 pm
Contact: Pam Vavra, Peace House, pam@nv.net

May 2—Medford, Medford Library, 3:00 pm
Contact: Allen Hallmark, Citizens for Peace and Justice, hallmark@mind.net

May 3—Grant’s Pass, 747 NW Kinney St, 2:00 pm
Contact: Hal Anthony, Veterans for Peace #156, threepines@jeffnet.org

May 5—Corvallis, Noon
Contact: Joseph Orosco, OSU Studies Program, joseph.orosco@oregonstate.edu

May 6 and 7—McMinnville Events
Contact: Ellie Gunn, Yamhill Valley Peacemakers, elliegunn@gmail.com (May 6)
Contact: Justin O’Connell, Linfield College, joconne@linfield.edu (May 7)

May 8—Seattle Washington
Contact: Gerry Condon, Project Safe Haven, projectsafehaven@hotmail.com

May 9—Fort Lewis Washington
Contact: Gerry Condon, Project Safe Haven, projectsafehaven@hotmail.com

May 12—Bay City, Tillamook Library, 6:30pm
Contact: Andrea Goss, Till County Citizens for Human Dignity, andreagoss@vanirmail.com

May 13—Portland
Contact: Katie Heald, PDX Peace, katieh@riseup.net
Contact: Megan Brooker, PDX Peace/Military Families Speak Out, moonshineharmony@yahoo.com

May 14—Portland

May 17—Corvallis—7:30 pm

May 18—Corvallis—Noon

May 25—Portland (Memorial Day)

May 26—Portland, Portland Community College, 12pm
Contact: Michael Sonnleitner, Portland Community College, soulom2u@hotmail.com

May 29—Eugene, Lane Community College (Peace Conference)
Contact: Stan Taylor, Lane Community College Peace Program, taylors@lcc.edu

If you don’t see your town on this list, and your group might be interested in hosting a stop on Benji’s tour, please get in touch with cara@rop.org as soon as possible, so we can talk about what support ROP can offer your group and get you in touch with Leah. Also get in touch with ROP if your town is on this list and you want to know how to help organize the event.

To learn more about Benji, check out the announcement of the tour, or visit the Courage to Resist website.

 

Let’s get Benji’s important message out to Oregon!
End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan! Stop the violence abroad! Keep our youth in school not at war!

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