PEORIA -- Peace activist Cindy Sheehan rolled into Peoria on May 30 as part of a three month bicycle trip from California to Washington D.C. called tour de peace.
In a witty and empassioned speech, Sheehan spoke to two dozen activists about her trip and her mission. She and her colleagues are under no illusions about changing the national political scene from the top down.
"Community building is the most important thing we can do. We have each other and that's all we've got," said her colleague Malcolm Chaddock who introduced her.
Along the way they stopped to protest the new George W. Bush 'lie-bury' in Dallas, Sheehan said. The purpose is to 'bury the lies, she added.
She complained about the cost of $12 to tour the Lincoln Library in Springfield. "Libraries and museums should be free," she said.
She talked about the disillusionment people are feeling about the Obama administration. "A lot of people who thought Obama was going to be a change over George W. Bush are disappointed."
She continued, "I hated Bush. They did too. (But) I realized it's about the system. The disease in the US is militarism, poverty and racism, so every four years we get another boil" from the diseased system that doesn't change, she said.
"What's the use of voting?" she asked. "Our activism should be commuity gardens," and individual movements to stop GMO foods and Monsanto, she said, a cause that interests people today.
"Obama just signed the Monsanto Protection Act," so there's no accountability for the damage GMOs and pesticides do. "How facist is that!"
We must free outselves "from the slavery of partisan politics," she said. "If it's wrong when Bush did it, it's still wrong when Obama does it."
She read a list of demands that included stopping the persecution of Wikkileaker Bradley Manning and the attorney Lynn Stewart, a radical leftist lawyer now jailed after she issued a news release for a terrorist client.
Sheehan's goal is to break through "apathy and inaction," she said. "Street heat is worth more than a vote"
"I sat down in a ditch in Crawford, Texas and people were energized. That's what we need now. We need to break free from apathy," she said.
"Voting or not voting is a personal choice. I vote against the system, the status quo," she said. "We should be evolving away from the propaganda and marketing of the elections."
The Occupy movement revealed "the class divide in this country. The 1 pecent is protecting their wealth" using all the government's institutions. "Our solution is to be local. Where you put your dollars is more important than where you put your vote."
If the government would stop subsidizing fossil fuels, "the industry that is killing our planet," and instead put the money into a sustainable, clean economy, with bicycle and pedestrian lanes instead of highways, there would be jobs for all, and youths like her son would not be forced into the military to earn a living, she said.
"When the only jobs you have are minimum wage or weapons of mass destruction, like Caterpillar, it's very hard because we don't have a healthy economy," she said.
"It's not impossible to retool into a green economy," she said, but "it won't happen overnight." It can happen, as it happened in Venezuela, she said.
She attacked the worker exploitation of capitalism. "If workers own the means of production, they will want to produce something clean and sustainable. We have to start at the local level doing these things."
Sheehan isn't totally rejecting politics. She said she's running for governor of California in the next election, and will campaign on her bicycle everywhere.
Meanwhile, her job is to be an activist, she said. She passed a basket for donations to keep the tour on the road.
-- Elaine Hopkins