(full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign)
A tiny town called Potrero just north of the border in California, an area ravaged by the recent wildfires, just stood up and resoundingly said no to another impending disaster: Blackwater moving to town. It was the nation's first ever electoral vote on Blackwater and it was a massive people-powered grassroots victory over the mercenaries. Every "stop Blackwater" candidate won by at least 63% (results here). It was an an enormous statement to Blackwater: stay out, you are not the kind of neighbors we want in our community. It is also a blistering statement by a very conservative town to reject the Bush world view. Our nation is not better served by having a privatized Army and there is nothing pro-troop about supporting Blackwater. (See Nicole's post from a few weeks ago on the recall)
The video is a short documentary on Carl Meyer, a quiet farmer who has lived in Potrero his whole life. helped lead the "Save Potrero" slate. He won last night with 71.4% of the vote, replacing the most ardent Blackwater supporter and chair of the Planning Group, Gordon Hammers. The Courage Campaign produced the film and it gives you a great sense of why he is my hero today and a true grassroots leader.
Blackwater has been working this little town of 509 registered voters (which went for Bush over Kerry by 25.8%) hard. They deployed Brian Bonfiglio, a Vice-President at Blackwater out to San Diego County to regularly show up to town meetings in Potrero. They sent out propaganda mailers and generally tried to ingratiate themselves with residents of the community. In short, Blackwater has invested a great deal of resources into P.R. within Potrero and cares very much what the residents feel about the company. Naturally, Bonfiglio and Blackwater are trying to downplay this huge loss, even trying to claim that they couldn't give a crap about the town.
Riiiight. Blackwater just got popped in the nose by a tiny town they thought they could steamroll. Not this time, fellas.
The results of this election should send a loud and clear statement to Blackwater and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (which has final jurisdiction over this proposal): Potrero does not want Blackwater to move into their town. They don't want to ruin their quality of life. They don't want to risk their sole source aquifer. They don't want an increased fire risk in a very fire prone area. They don't want a massive increase in traffic. They don't want guns firing from 15 ranges for hours on end. And they don't want a company who employs a band of mercenaries, who kill innocent civilians to be their neighbors.
The planning group will likely reverse the previous decision, but it is only an advisory board. The real power to reject Blackwater's mercenary base plans rests with the Board of Supervisors who will be ruling next year, after an environmental impact review is completed.
To block Blackwater's base, we are going to need to build a people-powered movement. The townsfolk in Potrero cannot win this on their own. They are asking for your help. Join the Courage Campaign today and sign the pledge opposing Blackwater's base at www.BlockBlackwater.com.