Alliance for peace also looks locally

Classes offered on nonviolence

Augusta is a military town, but a fledgling group here still wants to give peace a chance.

The CSRA Peace Alliance, begun in 2008, hopes to build a peace movement through public education, protests, lobbying and by building social ties with like-minded people.

The odds appear long against a peace movement gaining support in Augusta, where Fort Gordon's annual economic impact is estimated to top $1 billion a year. About 30,000 government and civilian workers are at the base. The peace alliance's Twitter account shows 50 followers.

That doesn't dent alliance co-founder Aymen Fadel's sense of conviction.

"We want to get our ground forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan and not have any more wars in general," he said. "We have to develop a policy of self-determination toward other countries. That means we don't intervene by building bases there and occupying them."

If the group's goals are global, its actions are local and span across many things simpler than ending wars.

"The term peace to us is broad," co-founder Denice Traina said. "We support human rights, civil rights, children's rights. We deal with anything that diminishes a person's ability to have peace within themselves."

Death row executions and the privatization of the Millen state prison have brought group members out to picket lines locally.

A security officer gave Traina three tickets recently for protesting war and advocating for better veterans care outside Augusta's VA hospital. A federal judge, who was a veteran and an amputee, later dismissed the charges.

"I was within my rights. This is about free speech," Traina said.

"I feel by doing this, I can encourage others to speak out so no one is ever shut down again."

The alliance also wants to promote peace at a personal level. Beginning this month, it will conduct nonviolence education at Augusta's downtown library. Reading and discussion topics will include Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., feminism and civil disobedience.

"We have obviously a political problem, in that our government sees war an option for a lot of policy problems," Fayed said. "But we also have violence in other forms as a society and we have violence as individuals. Nonviolence education is something that we can each personally benefit from."

The classes start at 6:30 p.m. and will be held twice a month beginning Tuesday.

Learn more

To learn more about the CSRA Peace Alliance and its upcoming classes on nonviolence, visit csrapeace.org.