Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New York CODEPINK and Grannies Visit Nancy Pelosi

Sunday morning we met at the Chinatown bus in a driving rain. We dozed all the way to DC while the driver chatted away in Chinese on his cell phone. After a metro ride and a short walk, we were welcomed warmly by Desiree and Liz at the CodePink house.
One look at the schedule for Monday and we knew we had our peace work cut out for us.
After Desiree fed us a lovely late luncheon we went down to the basement and began painting banners, t-shirts and sashes. Everybody worked so well together that the chore wasn’t a chore for very long – it became fun. While painting with Medea, Gael and Sonia, we practiced and composed songs for the Monday morning march to Pelosi’s office. Meanwhile Joan died a bale of t-shirts pink and hemmed a couple of banners. After Desiree’s delicious vegan dinner our musical abilities seemed enhanced. We reviewed plans for Monday’s breakfast press conference and the visit to Nancy Pelosi’s office. The D.C. based CodePink women whipped out their cell phone and began make reminder phone calls to area peaceniks. The three of us hit the hay while those that don’t need sleep kept working.
Monday morning the MSNBC crew arrived for breakfast and taped our rehearsal and preparation for the day’s actions. In pink apparel and with our voices raised in song we marched to the Cannon office building. As per our plan we settled in to Nancy Pelosi’s office. We offered the staff coffee and began decorating her walls with banners and pictures of soldiers who had died in the war. We were permitted to stay in the office and read the names of the 300 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since 110th Congress was sworn in. Suddenly someone from the House Rules Committee showed up and cited the rule that press was not permitted in Congressional offices. Some of the people with us left the room with the press to affirm the constitutional right of freedom of speech. Voices were raised and one person was arrested in the hallway. Eventually Speaker Pelosi’s Chief of Staff Terri McCullough did join us in the outer office for a stand-up meeting. There is much to be learned about political activism and we are taking a hands-on course
.Next the three of us hung pictures of our grandchildren from our necks and proceeded to go to the office of each of the nine members of Congress who voted no on the supplemental because they wanted to de-fund the war and bring our troops home fast. It was a pleasure to lobby with a thank you note for their vote. We realized how good a staffer feels when they work for someone with courage and character. When we asked how we could be more effective we were told that hand written letters mailed to local offices had more weight than emails or typed letters. Everywhere we went we asked that our troops be brought home, health care and education should be funded, and that funds should be allocated for the restoration of Iraq. And of course we also called for impeachment proceedings against our spectacularly incompetent president.
Later we regrouped and reviewed the day and headed to the restaurant Busboys and Poets to hear Congressman John Lewis speak. It was emancipation day and Congressman Lewis spoke about his early work in the voter rights movement. The District of Columbia still has no representation in Congress. Congressman Lewis noted that not enough of us in our country today are aware that change happens when you get in the way. And we felt inspired to keep on getting in the way!
Bev, Caroline and Eva-Lee, CODEPINK NY and Granny Peace Brigade

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