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Demonstrators gathered at the Post Office in Brattleboro on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, to call on elected officials to pass a War Powers Resolution to help bring an end to the war in Yemen.

BRATTLEBORO — Outside the post office on Main Street, demonstrators held hands in a moment of silence after voicing their distress and frustration over the continued war on Yemen.

During a National Day of Protest on Wednesday, they called for the reintroduction of and vote on a Yemen War Powers Resolution to end the U.S. military backing of the Saudi war on Yemen. Protests occurred in different parts of the state and were organized by Vermont activists, Yemeni Americans and more than 70 organizations, according to a news release.

“We might be a relatively small group what you see here,” said Isaac Evans-Frantz of Brattleboro, director of Action Corps VT and former candidate for U.S. Senate. “But around the country today in over 10 cities in at least 10 states, people are demonstrating, people are saying, ‘The war on Yemen must stop. Enough is enough. Not in our name. Not with our resources.’”

Evans-Frantz said the Ukraine war just reached its one-year anniversary, whereas the war in Yemen has been going on for eight years. The difference, he said, is the U.S. is on the side of the aggressor in Yemen.

Activists said the war is attributed with starving a child to death every 75 seconds. They believe Vermont’s support for the resolution is key because U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, has been “the face of this effort in Congress,” according to the news release.

Marielle Blais, vice chairperson of the Vermont Progressive Party, said part of the organizing efforts should focus on engaging the youth of Vermont. As a retired teacher, she plans to return to classrooms to talk about what’s happening in Yemen.

“This is the silent war if we don’t talk about it,” she said. “Individuals can make a difference.”

Ellen Schwartz of the Vermont Workers’ Center said the U.S. doesn’t stand up to Saudi Arabia because it’s an ally in the Middle East. She stressed the importance of prioritizing human rights.

Sanders and U.S. Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., support the resolution, Schwartz said.

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“What’s the rub?” she said. “I think it’s the grasp Saudi Arabia has on our foreign policy.”

Evans-Frantz said for more than 10 months, Saudi Arabia has not dropped a single bomb on Yemen.

“That’s a really important step forward but that can change any moment,” he said.

The Rev. Scott Couper of Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro urged advocacy for the Yemeni people. He encouraged demonstrators to support the resolution “in all dimensions you work.”

Previously, Evans-Frantz explained how the resolution would force a vote to stop supporting the war.

“And it turns out,” he said at a protest last March, “the Congress never authorized this war. It’s been waged now by three administrations, first the Obama administration and then the Trump administration, and now the Biden administration.”

Locals call for accountability on Yemen

Daniel Sicken of Putney, peace activist, noted the American economy’s dependence on military jobs.

“Even Brattleboro, we have two companies who are making products for the military,” he said. “That’s the issue — you’re taking away jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Spoon Agave of Brattleboro, a Select Board candidate for a one-year seat and chairperson of the Progressive Party for both Brattleboro and Windham County, said he hopes more people get involved in issues addressing capitalism and greed.

Vermont groups involved in the demonstration included Vermont Anti-war Coalition, Centre Congregational Church, Burlington’s branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Action Corps VT, Vermont Workers’ Center, Green Mountain Veterans For Peace Will Miller Chapter, World Beyond War, Community Asylum Seekers Project, Everyone’s Books in Brattleboro, Upper Valley Affinity Group, and Windham World Affairs Council.