This weekend, my first working with CODEPINK, Ann, Liz and Desiree picked me up at a friend's house in the DC area and whisked me off to NY to protest Cheney at West Point. He was giving a commencement speech to many of the future soldiers in this horrendous War on Iraq. We were not allowed within the gates of West Point, but we did march outside the gates, along with at least a hundred others. I was impressed by the turn out, but Annie, an amazing CodePinker from upstate New York, said that the turnout last year had been even bigger!
I was amazed at the devotion of all of the protesters. They marched in the heat, proudly walking past the few angry counter-protestors that were standing next to the sidewalks yelling at us. Coming from Maine, a protest of this size was pretty exciting. At home, I've only been involved in small, calm protests and vigils where almost no one shouts out against us, and certainly no one plans a protest against our protest!!!
We then drove down to NYC to help out with Operation First Casualty, which is a form of street theater put on by Iraq Veterans Against the War. The veterans, along with some pre-selected civilians, simulate life in an occupied city to give Americans a taste of what soldiers and Iraqi civilians experience every day. Our job was to hand out fliers and explain to people on the streets the meaning of this powerful action.
Quite a few people seemed interested, a few told me they were moved, but many were indifferent. I was frustrated by their apathy, but had to remind myself that even if the action inspired just a few people, those few more people could make a real difference in the campaign to stop the war.
At one point, a man walked up to our group and introduced himself as an Arab who had been dragged from his home and brought to a prison shortly after 9/11. He told of how he was denied the knowledge of where he was or how much time had passed and his discription of the way he was treated gave me chills. He was afraid for us to record any of what he said, so I wont add any details, but I was absolutely shocked. That a man could be taken from his home and tortured in a prison in the United States was such a wake up call for me. I knew that Bush had vetoed legislation to ban torture, but to hear a personal account of torture in a prison in the US?!! Could there be a better reason for impeachment?
We spent the rest of the weekend dressed in pink, holding Arrest Bush signs, singing anti-war songs into a megaphone, driving down the streets of NYC shouting "impeach Bush" out the windows... (I must admit that lovely Desiree did most of that) My first weekend as an intern for CODEPINK was the craziest, most fun and most productive weekend I've had in a LONG time! I can already feel how much I have to learn from the passionate, eloquent and strong women of CODEPINK. I can't wait to see what they have in store for me tomorrow!