Friday, April 16, 2021

Peace Activists Confront Saudi Propaganda Mill In Des Moines

 By Brian Terrell

On Tuesday, April 13, a dozen people representing Iowa Peace Network, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Catholic Peace Ministry and Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm attempted to visit the offices of public relations and marketing firm LS2group in Des Moines, with a banner that read, “LS2group- DON’T LOBBY for War Crimes and Murder, drop SAUDI ARABIA.”

LS2group has had several million dollar contracts with the Saudi kingdom in recent years and has been hired again to repair the kingdom’s image that has been further tarnished by recent events, as reported in a March 6 USA Today article, “After Khashoggi murder, Saudi Arabia shifts lobbying firepower to 'middle America' with women's rights message.” Patti McKee, director of Des Moines based Catholic Peace Ministry responded to the report, “We can't stand by and let LS2group continue to tout Saudi Arabia's ‘improved’ women's rights while they continue to oppress them in many ways. Saudi Arabia also continues their deadly war against Yemen causing starvation of thousands of children and the destruction of the country. LS2group must drop their Saudi account now if they want to be seen as a credible company.”

                                            Terrell/ Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm

On Monday, an email was sent to LS2group announcing the visit: “Just a heads up and to assure you that while our outrage over your firm's collusion with the Saudi regime is real, our presence outside your office, noon to one tomorrow, will be peaceful and respectful. We will be delivering a letter expressing our hope that LS2group will drop its contracts with the Saudi regime.  We would welcome a chance to speak with a representative of LS2group, if this is possible.” On Tuesday during usual business hours, LS2group offices at 510 East Locust Street were locked and dark and its parking lot empty. After waiting an hour on the sidewalk with their banner, the activists signed a letter composed by CODEPINK Women for Peace and slipped it into a crack between the office building’s doors.

“No public relations campaign on behalf of the Saudi kingdom can soften the image of that brutal regime,” says Maloy, Iowa, based activist Brian Terrell. “Taking money from a government ruled by an unelected despot who ordered the gruesome murder and dismemberment of a journalist, one whose military conducts a war and blockade of Yemen that has killed many thousands of civilians and threatens millions with starvation, one who imprisons and tortures women’s rights advocates should only hurt the image of LS2group.”

The activists will meet again outside LS2group offices next Wednesday at noon and will continue to push LS2group to drop its Saudi contracts. Concerned people outside Iowa can join more than 2,000 who have signed CODEPINK’s letter, https://www.codepink.org/ls2group, and email LS2group at info@ls2group.com

Brian Terrell is a former Des Moines resident, and took lead with organizing this demonstration.   brian1956terrell@gmail.com


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