Thursday, March 22, 2007

Four Activists Arrested at Pelosi's

By Rae Abileah

Activists say “if Pelosi buys the war, she owns the war”

As the house began to debate the $100 billion Supplemental Bill on the floor of the Capitol this afternoon, four CODEPINKers were arrested taking over Speaker Pelosi’s office. As they held up images of the American soldiers killed this month in Iraq and chanted “stop funding the war,” police moved in and arrested four CODEPINK representatives: Eve Tetaz from DC, Desiree Fairooz from Arlington, Texas, Janine Bonaparte from Marin, CA, and David Barrows also from DC.

In her statement Medea Benjamin said: “If Pelosi—who was given a mandate for peace in the November election—buys this war, she owns this war. And what she owns is 3228 American soldiers killed, and those soldiers, those sons who will be killed as the war rages on.”

During the action at Pelosi's office, we held up banners that read "Pelosi, be a leader for peace" and "Pelosi, Don't Buy Bush's War". We also had a large banner with a donkey that said "Pin the War on the Donkey" and tails reading "War" "Torture" "War Profiteering" and more.

At one point, while we were speaking with the abundant crowd of reporters, we held up photos of soldiers who have been killed in the war, attached with a string. A police officer immediately snatched the photos and said they were a banner and not allowed in. We said that these were not a banner, these were the faces of the dead. Even the press looked horrified and snapped some photos of the ordeal. After putting away the pictures, we took out a newspaper with the faces of the dead printed in color and held it up. And we started crying. Not fake wailing. Not shouting. Just crying. Tears and tears and we couldn't help it, and I couldn't help it. And instead of reporters asking "Why are you here protesting?" or "What are you doing here today?" they asked me "Why are you crying?" And this is what I said:

I am crying because the Democrats' support of another $100 billion for the war means that thousands more kids my age will be killed--kid soldiers and Iraqi kids. Pelosi's support of Bush's request for money for war is a death sentence for thousands of kids. After weeks of cute, colorful, passionate actions in the halls of Congress, from caroling with the choir to valentine delivery to dog bones for Blue Dogs to pink aprons and brooms cleaning House, today was an action of a different tenor. I felt like the floodgates had come down and the halls of Congress were gushing with a bloody river. Maybe it sounds dramatic. But it felt like we were drowning in tears, in pain, in the realization of something very, very wrong. And the tragic part was that the two secretaries in Pelosi's office sat there chuckling and picking up phones, and the press liaison came out and answered reporter's questions with a blank face. My heart was pounding so loudly that I wondered why it didn't just crack the walls of the marble building. Those walls felt more sturdy and guarded than usual. How have our Democratic leaders become so enchanted by the Republican language? Pelosi has helped them back into a corner where Bush will emerge victorious. And the tragic thing is that they will tout this as a victory if it passes tomorrow.

I visited Anna Eshoo's office after the action, and her press secretary tried to explain to me why Anna is going to vote for this supplemental. He gave me the analogy of a football game, where one must work strategically one play at a time to get the ball up the field to the goal. Here's why I think that's a bogus comparison: The compromise that Pelosi and the Dems are voting for is not one step towards peace; it is one step towards prolonging violence and destruction, and killing innocent lives for nothing. The press liaison listened patiently to my opinion, and then told me that we have the same goal, just different tactics. But I am quite certain now that we don't have the same goal. The Democrats want to win. I want to see the killing stop. I want to welcome our soldiers home with open arms and fully equipped medical services. I want to see justice done to the administration. The Democrats, well, they want to win--this vote, the election in '08, the power. If Pelosi would have just come out and said, "Look, I know that this bill (or ammendment like Lee's) may fail, but I am going to take this stand because I believe in the courage of my convictions, because I am more committed to the will of my constituents and the integrity of justice." But we'll never get to find out what Dems would have done if the supplemental had been straight with Bush's desires. And now it's a mess.

Today there is a deep sorrow. Tomorrow there is a vote. Then, we will keep on working for peace...

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