Anti-war Group Offers Late Filers A Bit Of Street Theater

April 16, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

Posing as a leader of the military industrial complex, former state Delegate Patricia Aiken stood outside the post office on Church Circle, thanking Annapolitans for their "contributions" as they filed pastand mailed their income tax returns.

"We thank you and think you should invest more and more and buy more and more atomic bombs. They're a great investment because they just sit around and never go bad,"Aiken said.

"It's not enough to destroy the world 40 times over," said Courtney Gartnor, decked out in a tuxedo, a cane and a top hat manufacturedat his Hats in the Belfry factory.

"I'm a weapons contractor and I'm ecstatic today," he acted. "I've got 52 percent of your tax dollar, and by damn I want more."

Aiken and Gartnor were joined yesterday by about 20 other members of the Anne Arundel chapter of SANE/FREEZE who held placards showing the percentage of each federal income tax dollar spent on such domestic programs as housing (2 cents), alcohol and drug programs (1 cent), transportation (3 cents) and education (2 cents).

The percentages were drawn from last year's federal budget by the Jobs for Peace organization and do not include Social Securityspending. The military figure of 52 cents includes military spaceprojects from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget and the military's portion of the interest on the national debt.

"The point of all this is to saythat the Persian Gulf war should not be used as a continuing excuse to spend one-half of the nation's tax dollars on the defense industry," Anne Arundel chapter coordinator Michael Keller said.

Tony Joy of Annapolis worehuge branches of dead trees and a placard reading, "Environment: 2 cents."

"These aren't happy trees -- these are dead trees. I think much more of our tax money should go to nurturing the Earth instead ofdestroying it," Joy said.

Holding out a clay cup with two pennies in it and a sign reading "Hunger and Nutrition," Lucy Oppenheimer told the same story with a different twist.

"Our national priorities are a disgrace," she said.

SANE/FREEZE claims 100,000 dues-paying members nationwide. The Anne Arundel County chapter, founded in 1982, claims 600 active members, most recruited by a Washington-based door-to-door canvassing network.

Keller says membership has been surging lately in response to a perceived rise in U.S. militarism before and during the gulf war.

"The peace movement does very well when there's concern andfear of war in the public," he said.

SANE/FREEZE actively opposedthe military buildup and ensuing war in the gulf while also supporting all United Nations resolutions insisting that Iraqi forces pull out of Kuwait. Leaders said the economic sanctions on Iraq should have been extended another 12 to 18 months before America forcibly removedIraqi troops from Kuwait. They predicted thousands of U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties and prolonged civil strife in the region.

"The only thing we got wrong was the number of American casualties," Keller said.

Anne Arundel's chapter sponsored a daily vigil at Annapolis City Dock protesting the gulf war and persuaded the County Council to reject money for nuclear war civil defense planning.

Members are lobbying U.S. Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski to co-sponsor a bill that would overturn a 1990 accord separating the federal budget into military, international and discretionary funds and barring money transfers between categories.

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