Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Next Generation: Presente

As the First Ladies of CODEPINK were coming together in 2002, I was thinking about where and how I would go to college. Like many teenagers at the time, I witnessed the events of September 11, 2001 live in French class. I watched footage of the invasion of Iraq in history class. I participated in discussions during lunch with teachers and fellow students, the majority of which enthusiastically supported US military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Living in West Virginia, many of these students would follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents and enlist in the armed forces having very little understanding of the effects of war on the human body, mind, and spirit. In addition to the typical talks on drugs and safe sex, my high school also sponsored several appearances by and speeches from military recruiters proposing enlistment as a career option. I, myself, was dating a guy in the National Guard. In all of the speeches, films, debates, and conversations there was very little representation of and even blatant disdain for internationalist, pacifist, or feminist stances. I remember feeling alienated and unsure. This feeling continued and grew through college in rural West Virginia.
I learned in university-level political science courses that in addition to structural and legal explanations for America’s low voter turnout, there are also psychological. Like many people my age and those who lived through the Civil Rights Era, I used to believe that my generation is more apathetic and alienated than any previous group of American youth. I was not taught, however, a means of overcoming these deleterious psychological effects. Out of some strange combination of hope, disgust, and anger I took off for Washington, DC to participate in the events of September 15, 2007. Like many of my fellow progressive-minded youth, I dreamt of traveling back in time to an era where people of all races, classes, and genders came together in mass for a common objective. It was there that I discovered CODEPINK in addition to many other groups campaigning for social justice. It was there that I discovered an active youth culture which betrays the notion that my generation can only sit around and bitch about our problems. Having been raised as the first with the Internet to connect to the whole world, my generation is also subject to voyeurism. Until September 15th, I had only known of these groups through the Internet and not as real, powerful, passionate people. After marching through the streets, I joined several thousand on the lawn of the Capitol building just before the police barricades. I looked around, and realized I’d found what everyone said no longer existed. It was beautiful.
For the demonstrations on September 29th, I wanted a more intimate exposure to the peace movement. Desperate to work with a group of both feminist and antiwar orientation, I decided to stay at the CODEPINK house for three days. I was amazed and elated as I was greeted by leading members of CODEPINK as a friend and an equal. I could not believe that I was hugging Medea Benjamin and other women involved in struggles for peace and social justice; that I was marching with women I never thought I’d meet in person. I am amazed above all with the warmth, accessibility, and organization of this group. Anyone who doubts the passion and social involvement of young women today can alleviate those concerns with a visit to various CODEPINK efforts or even a stay at the DC house.
“What do we want? PEACE! When do we want it? NOW!” This was one of our many demands as we marched through the streets of DC on the 29th. What a way to become acquainted with our capital! Having read about the disagreements between feminist, pacifist, and revolutionary groups of all races during the 1960s and 1970s, I expected some conflicts among various special groups of the peace and social justice movements. I am surprised and happy to say that this conflict did not occur. In fact, at the end of the formal march, a group comprised of possibly 75 members of SDS, FIST, Troops Out Now Coalition, individual protestors, and CODEPINK members converged to block the intersection of Constitution and Pennsylvania. Though some veterans of the peace movement were present, the majority of this group represented a multifaceted bunch of young people. We held the intersection, without direct police interference for roughly six hours. Six lanes of traffic in downtown DC were blocked off by this nation’s emerging and growing progressive youth for at least 6 hours. Once we realized the police were not prepared to intervene, we ordered pizza, set up tents, played music, and danced in the streets. We made sure that the police and those passing by knew one undeniable fact: these streets are OUR streets. Around 9PM, we collectively decided to end the protest on a positive, energetic, and victorious note to be played again in the future. The experience was nothing short of magical.
To young women and men wondering if they are alone in their dreams of ending wars of racist imperialism, the objectification and exploitation of women and the working class, the lack of affordable, quality health-care and viable progressive politicians in office, I have one strong message for you. YOU are the ones which must change this nation. We cannot leave this up to veteran members of various grous; we cannot simply watch Cindy Sheehan, CODEPINK, Troops Out Now coalition, ANSWER, and IVAW demanding change and facing arrest on television and the Internet. We must join them in the streets, in the halls of Congress, and anywhere else we can get major media coverage and make a large impact. If we do not, we become the next generation of apathetic complacency. We are the next generation of peace and social justice activists, and there are warm, passionate people waiting to welcome and assist you. Let’s see what we can do on October 21st and 22nd!

Cassandra Rice

Saturday, September 29, 2007


By Madge Strong

After 2-1/2 years of helping organize CodePink (Women for Peace) activities in Willits, I decided it was time to bring the message directly to Washington D.C., where our government makes the decisions that affect our future. I arrived Thursday, Sept. 27 evening, staying with my cousin and his wife. Their son is currently in Iraq, serving in a war that they oppose. So far, he is OK.

Day 1: Fri. Sept. 28

Peace Encampment, Sen. Feinstein’s Office

Friday morning I showed up at the CodePink house. I was immediately swept up in the activities for that day, rushing to the peace encampment at the foot of the Capital for a Peace Mass. From there a group of four CodePink activists from California went to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office, where we presented to one of her staff a "Hall of Shame" award for her recent vote in favor of the Kyle-Lieberman resolution that beats the war drums by demonizing Iran. Capitol police tracked our coming-and-going from the building with their walky-talkies: “CodePink is just leaving Sen. Feinstein’s office,” and escorted us to the door. One of them asked kindly about a CodePinker who had been arrested earlier that week.

Global Warming Demonstration

Our delegation then joined a group of about 200 in front of the State Dept., organized by Friends of the Earth calling for urgent measures to combat global warming - in contrast to the Bush Administration's foot-dragging and ineffective lip service. One of the speakers there had been fasting for 25 days to bring attention to this crucial issue. One person dressed as a polar bear (despite the warm day), illustrating their impending extinction; the arctic ice pack has already shrunk by 40%.

Breasts, Not Bombs

Our next stop was a stretch for me and several CodePink colleagues: we met Mendocino actress/activist Sherry Glaser in front of the White House for a "Breasts, Not Bombs" action. Sherry explained to a few passers-by that a woman's breasts are natural and nurturing, not indecent, but the killing, torture, and illegal wars of the Administration truly are indecent. To my surprise, baring of breasts is not illegal in D.C.! Nonetheless, two policemen came, after Sherry and her friend Sheba had shed their shirts, to discourage the "inappropriate display." Eventually, a crowd gathered and several news people were filming, as three other women (and a man!) joined the action; two of us passed out literature and took documentary video. As I explained to curious on-lookers, I was too inhibited to go bare, but certainly agreed that extreme measures - and acts of courage by ordinary citizens - are required to call attention to the obscenity of this war.

Democracy for Burma Demonstration

We took a taxi from the White House to the Burmese Embassy, where we joined a group of Buddhist monks and many students, protesting the killing and persecution going on in Burma by the military junta with China's backing. The crowd swelled to about 200 by the time we marched and chanted to the Chinese Embassy, led by the monks.

My cousin picked me up back at the CodePink house (a 4-story row house that accommodates about 20 people at a time), and I passed on the evening event featuring people from "Sicko," supporting universal health care. I was exhausted, but felt rewarded by a busy first day in the capitol!

DAY 2 – Sat. Sept. 29

Rally & March for Peace

After my whirlwind first day of demonstrations, my second day in D.C. was similarly exciting and exhausting. On Saturday, Sept. 29 I participated as part of CodePink in a rally and march sponsored by the Troops Out Now Coalition, culminating a week-long Peace Encampment at the capitol. Dozens of groups were represented during the 3-hour rally, as the crowd grew to several thousands (much smaller than the Sept. 15th ANSWER Coalition event but still impressive).

I got to experience the unique style of CodePink. For starters, there's the fashion statement: not just pink, but boas, 3-layer umbrellas, capes, etc. The idea is to have fun as well as get attention; it works!

Then, when Medea Benjamin (CodePink co-founder) and retired Colonel Ann Wright spoke on-stage at the rally, they rounded up about a dozen of us to climb the ladder and stand with them. Medea and Ann are fantastic spokespeople, passionate and articulate, but there's no ego about it. We all stand together.

And finally, during the march, the CodePink contingent of about 30 didn't just walk the two mile route through government central D.C.; we improvised actions as we went, chanting "Funds for Education, Not for Occupation" at the entrance to the Dept. of Education, and - at the Voice of America building - we chanted "The voice of America: Let's End the Occupation!"

DAY 3 - Sunday, I enjoyed sight-seeing with my cousins - and rested.

DAY 4 - Monday Oct. 1st

Pres. Bush at Ft. Myers

I arrived at CodePink house just in time to go out the door for another "action." We had word that Pres. Bush would be attending the retirement party for Gen. Pace at Fort Myers, so eight of us piled into two cars, with banners, bull horns, a Bush mask, and other paraphernalia.

Five of us were dropped off at one entrance, where we waved our message to dozens of VIPs entering the base. The others hit the jackpot, greeting Bush's motorcade as it arrived at the other entrance. So they fetched us and all 8 of us, plus two more who joined us there, continued demonstrating against the war to hundreds of cars passing by. We also gathered a total of 10 police cars (2 cops each) plus 4 motorcycle cops sent to "control" us. One person wore the Bush mask and prison garb, four were holding banners ("Don't Buy Bush's War"), and Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin took turns on the bull horns, directing a plea to the military personnel on the other side of the heavily-armed gate not to support this illegal war. We got quite a few thumbs-ups and peace signs from passing motorists for over an hour.

The wait paid off, as we saw the color guard escort Bush back to the motorcade. We chanted "George Bush: War Criminal." Four copters and four jets flew low overhead. Street traffic was closed, and then the parade of about 20 motorcycles, many armored SUVs, and at least four limousines passed about 50 feet from us. Someone said they could see Bush blandly smiling at us. Considering how they normally keep all protesters out of Bush's sight, this felt like quite a coup!

Meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s Aides

My next stop for the day was Senator Feinstein's office, where I met with two of her legislative assistants, Joel McFadden and Richard Harper, Jr., for a half-hour. I expressed my concern over her support of the Kyle-Lieberman "sense of the Senate" resolution which essentially joins the drum-beat of war-mongering against Iran. They defended her position by noting that more explicit language implying permission to use force was removed before she would support it. They also assured me that Sen. Feinstein absolutely believes diplomacy should be the first priority. Unfortunately, this administration doesn't seem so diplomacy-minded. In view of this - and Feinstein's misplaced faith in the Administration back in the Fall 2002 run-up to the Iraq war, I strongly urged that Congress tie the President's hands rather than sit on their own hands. Finally, I of course urged that we get the troops out of Iraq now. They were polite listeners and said they would pass along my concerns to the Senator. Perhaps that makes a bigger dent than the 30,000 emails she gets each week.

On my return to the CodePink house (I had decided to stay there for my last two nights in DC), we greeted three Japanese peace activists who had just arrived, direct from Osaka. They're my roommates, so I helped them settle, we all ate dinner together and received many gifts from them to CodePink.

DAY 5 - Tuesday, Oct. 2

Blackwater Hearing

My last full day in Washington D.C. had three main events. After breakfast with the CodePink house residents, which now included the three peace activists from Japan, most of us headed to the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, where they were conducting a hearing on private security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They would be questioning Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater.

We were in line almost an hour early, but it was a small hearing room and the guards said that, except for people with authorized press passes, only the first 25 people would get in. They advised us to watch the hearing on closed circuit TV in an overflow room down the hall. Since the hearing had not yet started, though, we waited there. It was interesting to meet other people in line, but as the minutes dragged, I suggested to Amber that we sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee." (Amber is a CodePinker from Santa Cruz staying at the house, and we had enjoyed singing together the day before at Fort Myers.) We got through the song
once before a guard rushed over and sternly advised us we would be arrested if we didn't stop immediately. Ah, sweet land of liberty!

We went to the overflow room when the hearing began with a powerful statement from its chair, Henry Waxman. He said, "For every taxpayer dollar spent on federal programs, over 40 cents now goes to private contractors. Our government now outsources even the oversight of the outsourcing." He noted that Blackwater, founded in 1997, went from just $200,000 in government contracts in 2000 to over $1 billion since then; more than half of those were awarded without full competition. The questions for this hearing, he said, are: Is Blackwater helping or hurting our efforts in Iraq? Are we holding such private military contractors accountable? And what are the costs?

Waxman advised the committee that the Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed would not be the subject of any detailed questions today, due to requests from the Justice Department in view of the FBI's current investigation of the matter. He noted, however, that the September 16 event "is just the latest in a series of troubling Blackwater incidents." There have been at least 195 shooting incidents involving Blackwater forces since 2005; in most of these, Blackwater forces fired first. In addition, 122 Blackwater employees - one out of seven of the company's current workforce in Iraq - have been terminated for improper conduct.

Waxman brought up the case of a drunken Blackwater contractor who shot the guard of the Iraqi Vice President on Dec. 24, 2006. In the U.S., the contractor would have been arrested and charged. If a U.S. soldier had killed an Iraqi guard, he would face a court martial. But this Blackwater employee simply lost his job and was whisked out of Iraq within 36 hours. Adding insult to injury, the State Department advised Blackwater how much to pay the murdered man's family to "make the problem go away." The first suggestion of $250,000 was reduced to $15,000 because, as internal emails said, Iraqis would try to get themselves killed for such a large payout. (Prince later said they had actually paid the family $20,000.) It's hard not to conclude, said Waxman, that "the State Department is acting as Blackwater's enabler."

I won't detail all the questions and answers as the hearing went on for hours, but a few statements stand out. One line of questioning concerned the Nov. 27, 2004, airplane crash in Afghanistan in which the inexperienced Blackwater pilots not only did not follow standard procedures but were, as clearly evidenced by the cockpit recording, acting like cowboys on a joyride. (Three U.S. servicemen died in the crash.) Erik Prince's comments were, "Accidents happen," and there have been thousands of safe flights since then. Blackwater was not sanctioned, because the Air Force found that the accident was pilot error, not corporate error.

Another set of questions focused on accountability. Prince stated that Blackwater is subject to the Military Code of Justice, but some Congresspeople doubted that, since they are hired by the State Department and are civilians. Prince said all the company can do (regarding their employees' wrong-doing) is fire them; it is up to the Justice Department if any investigation or criminal charges are required. Apparently no case has yet tested what law Blackwater is actually subject to. One certainty is that it is not Iraqi law.

What did CodePink do to express our outrage at this mercenary force running amok and making the U.S. even more hated by the Iraqi people? Only one of our group had made it into the hearing room; he was forcibly removed when he "disrupted" the proceeding with a loud objection. In the hall and overflow room, one CodePink woman wore a princess-like outfit, with a crown that said "Prince Be Gone!" Several wore cloth signs on their backs saying "Blackwater = Mercenaries." As the hearing ended and Erik Prince was quickly escorted out, our group chanted "war criminal" until capitol police warned that one more outburst would result in our arrest. Let freedom ring.

Meeting with Rep. Mike Thompson

I left for part of the hearing to meet with my Congressman, Mike Thompson, and his legislative assistant Tracy Varghese. I had made the appointment days earlier and since then had been rehearsing in my mind what I wanted to say. I decided to focus on the reasons for and importance of impeaching Vice President Cheney. First, I thanked him for his Fall 2002 vote against the Iraq invasion and his sincere efforts to end the war. Thompson is clearly proud of his record, saying something to the effect of "I was against the war before any of you got active." He said the only time he's voted for any funds for the war was when it had a timeline for withdrawal attached (troops to be out by March 2008), which he thinks looks pretty good now. He resents the heat he's gotten for that and some of his other votes.

As I steered to the subject of impeachment, he stated his position that it would be strategically unwise. He did not seem to disagree with the ample grounds for impeaching Cheney (starting a war based on lies, outing a CIA agent, condoning torture and spying, war profiteering, etc.), nor that the Constitution calls for impeachment in cases of abuse of power. In fact, he stated that, if charges of impeachment were to come to a vote on the floor of the House (which would then require a trial in the Senate), he would vote for it. That was good news to me!

But he did not support such an action because, he said, "it would play right into the hands of the GOP," it would stop progress on other important legislation, and would not have enough votes to be successful. I disagreed that it would stop other progress, as very little can be accomplished anyway, between filibusters and vetoes. I pointed out that he often voted as a matter of principle for legislation that didn't have enough votes, and holding this Administration accountable for flouting laws and endangering our security warrants such a principled stand. Moreover, I believe it would be good strategically: instead of letting the Administration control the debate, impeachment hearings would bring media and public attention to the repeated lies, blunders, and criminal behavior of Cheney (not to mention others in the Administration).

Finally, I do not condone what I see as the Democratic strategy of running out the clock, hoping this unpopular Administration and war brings the Democrats a bigger victory in Nov. 2008. (He interjected that he believes such a victory would enable salutary changes in policy.) One problem I see with that argument is that the damage may be difficult to reverse: Democrats or Republicans aside, protecting our Constitution and rights should come first. Another big concern I have is that Cheney and his cronies, already shown to be ruthless, will stop at nothing to retain their power. That could include dirty electoral tricks, terrorist attacks, and/or starting another war (already in the works). This is just too dangerous!

Thompson, who seems to enjoy some verbal sparring, had begun glancing at the clock. He said we would have to agree to disagree, as he reiterated his opposition to bringing impeachment hearings. I thanked him and his aide for their time (almost a half-hour) and hoped he would keep aware of these concerns. With that, we adjourned and I returned to the Blackwater hearing.

Jena 6 Rally

My third action for the day was attending a rally in support of the Jena 6 - the black high school students arrested for a schoolyard brawl in this small Louisiana town after racial tensions had erupted following white students putting a noose in a tree, an unveiled threat to keep blacks away. The all-white jury had handed down an outrageous sentence for the first youth, overturned on appeal, yet he was still in jail, almost a year after the incident. At the rally, I joined 100-150 others, including our three polite Japanese visitors, calling for dropping all charges. It is sometimes discouraging to see that we are still fighting so many of the same injustices, decade after decade.

I returned to the CodePink house with the Japanese women, for dinner, conversation, and watching TV coverage of the day's events.

Leaving Day – Oct. 3

The next morning, Medea and Ann flew to Buffalo, New York, to test whether Canada would let them in (due to their FBI record of arrests for peace activities); Canada would not. Meanwhile, reluctantly, I was leaving DC.

Gold-Star Parent Carlos Arredondo

I got a ride to the train station with Carlos Arredondo. I hadn't realized, when I'd met him earlier in my visit, that he was the father of Alex, who died in Iraq at the tender age of 20, that Carlos has brought his son's symbolic coffin to peace marches, that he was the one who was beaten up by pro-war counter-demonstrators on Sept. 15th. Carlos said he's been spat on and insulted, but he cannot help but commemorate his son by working tirelessly for an end to this insane war, knowing what it has taken from him and from tens of thousands of other families – both in the U.S. and in Iraq. We shared some tears as he gave me a copy of his son's letter from Iraq.

With a full heart, I boarded the train and went north to visit with dear friends in New York State. I felt that I'd done more in one week than I'd done in months or even years back home, that I was not alone along-side many passionate, courageous peace-makers. I don't know what it will take to make a dent in the seemingly cold-hearted halls of Congress and the tunnel vision of Beltway politics, but I believe all our acts, small or large, make a difference. Like Carlos, I know I cannot be silent.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Preaching to the Chorus

By Dana Milbank, The Washington Post

Thursday, September 27, 2007; A02

Democrats' anger has built for weeks over their failure to end the war in Iraq. When Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace arrived on Capitol Hill yesterday, the lid came off.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, didn't just harangue the two men. He did so in triplicate.

"Funding for the war in Iraq will exceed 600 billion -- billion! billion! -- dollars!" the 89-year-old lawmaker bellowed, pointing his finger wildly while Gates picked at his cuticles.

"All of this for a war -- a war! a war! -- that General Petraeus, two weeks ago, could not say had made Americans safer!"

"A long-term presence could cost well in excess of 2 trillion -- 2 trillion! Yes, you heard me -- 2 trillion!"

Byrd's angry theatrics made for a performance reminiscent of Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman." And Byrd did Pacino one better: He invited the audience in the room to join him in heckling the witnesses, creating a responsive Greek chorus.

Byrd: "Are we really seeking progress toward a stable, secure Iraq?"

Chorus: "No!"

Byrd: "Is our continuing occupation encouraging the Iraqi people to step up?"

Chorus: "No!"

Byrd: "Are Iraq's leaders doing the hard work necessary?"

Chorus: "No!"

Emboldened, two dozen hecklers in the audience from the antiwar group Code Pink continued to shout at the witnesses and wave signs for the better part of an hour. Finally, after Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) challenged Pace on his view that homosexuality is immoral, the hearing collapsed as the hecklers shouted down the nation's top military officer.

"This hearing is adjourned!" Byrd shouted, hammering his gavel violently. An aide whispered in Byrd's ear. "This hearing is suspended!" he corrected.

During the melee, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) turned with ferocity on Harkin for raising the subject. "You should be ashamed," Gregg said.

"I don't need any lectures from you!" Harkin answered.

When the proceedings resumed, minus two dozen pink-clad demonstrators, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) felt the need to "go on record with how disturbed I am about the conduct that occurred here." She added: "Such tension, such chaos, such disrespect."

Perhaps, but it capped something of a revival for Byrd. In April, he had identified himself as "Popeye the Sailor Man" and delivered a 15-minute discussion of his dog at a Senate hearing. In June, he had found it necessary to deliver a speech on the Senate floor objecting to reports that "I am at death's door."

But this week, Byrd impressed colleagues with a fervent antiwar speech on the Senate floor Monday. On Tuesday, senators past and present unveiled a portrait of Byrd and reminisced about his days as Senate majority leader.

Arriving for yesterday's hearing, Byrd found the Code Pink hecklers already verbally assaulting Pace and Gates -- "Used-car salesmen! Stop funding war crimes!" -- but he let them continue for a few minutes before employing his gavel. He then began his own heckling about the administration's $190 billion funding request for what he called "the nefarious, infernal war in Iraq."

"Thank you! Thank you!" the pink hecklers cried.

"I am disappointed," Byrd said as if the witnesses were children. "This committee will not -- N-O-T, not! -- rubber-stamp every request." Theatrically, he drew out his words: "Trillionnnn." "Breathing roommmm."

The triple assault continued: Costs "will ultimately be borne by whom? Whom? Whom?" he demanded. And: "Mark Twain -- Mark Twain! Mark Twain! -- once said, 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.' " The chorus cheered him on with chants of "shame" and "woo hoo."

"This senator -- yes, this man from the hill country! -- believes that it is time for a thorough evaluation of the Bush war in Iraq," Byrd declared.

"Amen!" the chorus answered.

After some time, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tried to get Byrd's attention. "Our witnesses before this committee are entitled to be heard," he reminded the chairman.

"Let there be order," Byrd concurred. But there wasn't -- and he didn't seem to mind.

" 'Mission accomplished' has turned into a commitment to have our grandchildren patrolling Baghdad into the middle of this century!" the chairman chided.

The chorus laughed.

"Instead of a coalition of the willing, what we really have is a coalition of contractors!" he admonished.

"That's right!" the chorus agreed.

And so it continued until Harkin -- assisted by "boos" from the hecklers -- asked the soon-to-retire Pace about his "very hurtful" views on gays in the military. Pace repeated his view that homosexuality is "counter to God's law."

With that, the chorus erupted, shouting down Pace with a series of chants. Even Byrd decided he had "tolerated all I can stand" and ordered the room cleared.

"The Iraq people have a right to their home!" one of the hecklers shouted as police led her away.

"Senators," the chairman retorted, "have a right to have a hearing."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amazing Photos of CODEPINK in Senate Appropriations Hearing on Iraq War Funding

VIDEO BLOG: CODEPINK inside Senate Appropriations Hearing on Iraq War Funding

This is a clip of CODEPINKers yelling "SHAME" to the witnesses testifying before Senator Byrd's Appropriation Committee hearing on the 2008 fiscal year defense spending for Iraq

This is a very short sample of the signs CODEPINK held up behind Secretary of State Gates in the September 26th Senate Appropriations hearing.

This is juust a short clip of a CODEPINK Woman from Texas who was holding up a sign behind Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte in the Senate Approriations hearing on Iraq War funding September 26th, 2007.

On Wednesday September 26th, 2007 CODEPINK people from around the country were kicked out of the Senate Appropriations hearing after holding anti-war signs up behind the witnesses. (more)

Mostly female group colors the Capitol

| Washington Bureau

Chicago Trubune

September 13, 2007

WASHINGTON - It's early morning and the Capitol Hill neighborhood awakens to suit-wearers on their way to work and children swinging backpacks over their shoulders.

But Samantha Miller, a 22-year-old Los Angeles native, is busy contemplating the best way to sneak balloons into the Cannon House Office Building for an anti-war protest. She stuffs a pink balloon in her shirt, adds a couple of oven mitts, and -- voila -- the fake pregnant look.

"If I saw you in passing, I wouldn't think a thing about it," Deb Marshall, a retired house painter from Deer Isle, Maine, says reassuringly.

The two women are preparing for another day of protesting on Capitol Hill, this time to disrupt a public hearing in which Gen. David Petraeus is to provide a status report on Iraq. By the end of the day, at least five of their fellow women from the anti-war group Code Pink will be arrested for disorderly or unlawful conduct.

Code Pink's townhouse in Washington serves as a dorm and headquarters for the in-your-face group, whose mostly female members dress in gaudy pink and employ theatrical tactics that have alienated even some anti-war activists. A kitchen radio softly broadcasts the latest news from Iraq as Miller and Marshall put finishing touches on the balloons.

Aside from the newspaper clippings and anti-Bush posters on the wall, the place looks like a Barbie Dream House, covered in pink, from the plastic cups in the kitchen to the quilts on the beds.

Here, activists from across the country stay for free and protest the war; many will take part in a march Saturday. Some, such as the 68-year-old Marshall, are longtime activists in their communities, while others are first-time protesters frustrated with the war.

The women who come here sleep in bunk beds, divide house chores and share the bathroom.

Blending activism with joy

In the basement -- nicknamed the Peace Room -- the group stores its props and costumes, ready to be worn at the next protest. It's a collection of pink boas, pink police outfits, pink congressional suits, even giant papier-mache bobbleheads that poke fun at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

"We try to bring a lot of joy to our activism," said Miller, one of five paid Code Pink employees in Washington. "That's what gets people's attention."

Code Pink's tactics are anything but subtle. Members drop pink banners from buildings, make up songs and look for any spare moment to exhort a passing politician.

The anti-war coalition is increasingly a diverse one, and Code Pink members readily admit they are not popular with their comrades-in-arms.

"In a nutshell, they tolerate us," said Desiree Fairooz, a Texas children's librarian-turned-activist. "Most of the progressives seem proud of us, and there are others that think we're annoying."

To the war's supporters, they're more than annoying.

"People like Code Pink have absolutely no regard for the decorum of Congress," said Brad Blakeman, president and CEO of Freedom's Watch, a non-profit organization that supports President Bush's war strategy. "The costumes they wear at public hearings and the disruptions they make. ... It disrespects the message they're trying to deliver."

The Code Pink women have become a fixture of the Washington scene.

They appear on Capitol Hill "more days than not," said Terrance Gainer, the Senate sergeant at arms and a former Capitol Police chief. Though vocal, Code Pink members usually cooperate with police and know the rules, he said.

The group's loud, animated style of protesting is not new.

"In the labor movement, folks would sing songs as part of a camaraderie on the picket lines. In the civil rights movement, they'd sing religious hymns," said Gerard Huiskamp, a political science professor at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. "But in terms of street theater, that's more closely aligned with what Code Pink does, that came about during the Vietnam War."

Yippies, for example, were widely known for using such tactics in the 1960s. And protesting saw a resurgence in the 1990s as anti-globalization groups and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals threw giant banners from buildings and had celebrities pose naked.

"Politics and speaking out about something serious doesn't have to be somber and dry," Huiskamp said.

That's the message Gael Murphy hopes her fellow Code Pink members absorb when they camp at the group's townhouse.

"They're moved by the experience. They feel an empowerment," said Murphy, who co-founded Code Pink in November 2002.

The group began as an anti-war vigil outside the White House and expanded. Last March, Code Pink -- its name plays off the color-coded terrorism alert with a feminine twist -- signed a year-long lease for the townhouse, using fundraisers and donations to pay the $2,200 monthly rent.

Woman's average stay: 1 week

This summer, about 150 women from across the country slept in the house, most staying about a week before returning home.

Upon arrival they're quickly given a briefing, a sort of Congress 101, Fairooz said.

She shows them where the different buildings on Capitol Hill are, instructs them on how to speak with their representatives and reminds them to keep $50 in a sock for bail. In the evenings, the women compare notes and talk about their day.

"You'd walk in, and somebody would have cooked some dinner," said Robin Schirmer, a coordinator from Chicago area's Code Pink who plans to stay at the house later this week. "There's really a cooperative spirit."

Murphy added, "It's really hard to describe, but a lot of magic happens in this house."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reading the Constitution an Arrestable Offense?

Codepink member arrested for reading the Constitution - now that's Freedom!

The pro-occupation group "Vets for Freedom" held a rally at Upper Senate Park
here yesterday. The well-choreographed event resembled a high school football
pep rally as about 200 veterans (of all wars) dressed in beige polo shirts spoke
to about 300 of their hand picked supporters (mostly family), dressed in red
polo shirts. We in pink (with freedom of choice in shirts, boas, and tiaras)
and our friends from SEIU (dressed in their traditional purple tees), were not
allowed into the red audience - but we made our presence felt as we gathered on
the sidelines with banners and enthusiasm. Invited onto the peppy stage of
jingoism were some of the same Congressman who received Codepink's
"Certificates' of Shame" the day before for their misguided and strong support
of the illegal occupation in Iraq. They included John McCain (AZ), Johny
Isakson (GA), John Cornyn (TX), Roy Blunt (MO), and another who they referred to
as their favorite Democrat (SHAME!), Joe Lieberman (CT). Several of the
speakers where reasoning that we were in Iraq to support "freedom" - the "same
freedom," they said, that enabled we Codepinkers to loudly yell out truths from
side lines as these politicians spouted their lies. Ironic that four people
were arrested for expressing these freedoms. Including one Codepink member who
was arrested as she loudly read the constitution. Many of us engaged the
celebrated warmongering Congressmen as they walked off stage and back into their
hired cars. I, for example, had the wonderful opportunity to ask Joe Liberman
several times, and maybe a bit loudly ... "How will we end a war on terror,
Joe? Really, does that make any sense? Isn't that just an endless war Joe?
Find your soul, Joe, so that you can live out the rest of your life a happy
man!" He didn't answer me, but we did have some nice eye contact.

We had spent most of the day before this event on our "Sisters Don't Let Sisters
Vote for War" campaign. We selected 14 female Senators and 8 female House
members to visit and STRONGLY encourage them to sign a letter generated by the
House's Progressive Caucus that they will only support a funding bill for
withdrawal of our troops. We met with staffers or legslative aides in each
office and usually got the same old runaround, but we got some real engagment
too. Joel in Feinstein's office wanted to know "what was code pink's position?"
as 12 of us met around the large conference table in Feinstein's office. (Fund
withdrawal, was our answer!) The press secretary in Hawaii' rep. Mazie Hirono's
office sincerely asked if we felt impeachment was a good idea or if it would be
a distraction from the job of bringing the troops home. (Yes, exposing truth
will help bring the troops home, and it happens to be the House's obligation
under the constitution, is what we taught him!). We visited a couple of
Congress members who have good voting records who had yet to sign the letter.
They were actually happy to get a visit from us after hearing about us for two
plus years and indicated that their bosses would sign the letter soon. Liz,
bless her heart, made sure that when we visited Ohio rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
office that her staff wish her a happy birthday which she knew she had recently.
(These Codepink ladies really know their details!)

Codepink had about 130 participants representating 37 states this week! Each
time we visited an office, the Codepink constituents from that state were moved
to the front so they could engage with Congressional staff directly. "This is
what Democracy looks like!"

After a long day, several of us went to the Rayburn atrium to sing peace songs
under the direction of the magnificent Betsy Rose, a musician who has been
staying in the house for several days. The accustics were amazing and many
people would stop and pause to listen our messages of peace sung sweetly.

Then it was back to the Codepink house for another crowded but comfy dinner with
fellow friends and peacemakers. Potluck, wine, stories, (another one hour
meeting about today's highlights and tomorrow's actions) and then a wonderful
concert from Betsy Rose. After that, brainstorming ideas for signs for
tomorrows action on Blackwater. Then finally bed.

I know that right now, I'm at the right place, at the right time.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

SING! by Lori Perdue

The title of this post is the title of a poem. SING is in all caps by design. It is my latest tribute to the women of CODEPINK. I have been excessively busy this week and feel like I missed a lot of time with the many wonderful women staying at the CODEPINK House. It is also a shout out to Betsy whose music brought out a spirit at the house and at our actions that was a true blessing.
An update first.
The world is upside down and the weeks pass by like days here in D.C.. It's epidemic, that's why the blog has been so bare of words for the past week or so. (Except for that indomitable Midge with the videos!)
Medea and Gael and the incomparable House Mainstay crew have had such an incredibly interesting and vital schedule this week that although the house has been packed with amazing activists from all over the country, no one has had the time to process and write about any one specific action. There are so many bases to cover here that we could use a few more teams (more than this humble house could hold) to get to them all, to be honest.

I have a lot of information to process while I have some peace and quiet, but I feel the need to stop and let all of you know a few key things.

First of all, you are incredible. I have met some of the most honest, straightforward women at the CODEPINK house, acting on true principals and conviction during the past two weeks. I am honored to know you all. You have done a great job and I hope you take the energy we all shared home with you and create an environment of Peace, based in Justice wherever you go. Stand tall and know that you are good Americans. Your determination and spirit are both inspiring and humbling. Thank you.

Secondly, some of the most effective actions have come as suggestions from those of you at home. In my opinion, as witness to and participant in numerous actions by CODEPINK over the past two weeks, the best actions are the ones that are from the heart, challenge issues of justice or that are timely. CODEPINK has shown many sides in the past weeks. We have expressed outrage, mourning, diplomacy, reason, professionalism, and non-violence in the face of violence, to name a few.

I am pleased to be of the opinion that CODEPINK has been on-target, timely and accurate. CODEPINK has been acting on principal and inspired by excellent leadership and has provided support for it's own group and provided a broad range of assistance for members of other coalitions and groups. I am as proud to affiliate myself with CODEPINK as I am to claim membership in Veterans for Peace.
Together We Will Stop This War!

And now, the promised poem...


I sit here upright in a strange bed that now feels rather familiar
after nights spent sitting here, upright,
pouring these letters out onto the page in an order that forms words
and then phrases
that combine to convey ideas and statements and poems and garbled, sleep deprived rants
But right now I want to write to you
I want you to know that I am aware of you.
I see your bravery and conscience
You are beautiful and strong
I feel you at work inside me even when there are states separating us
I want you to understand that I take you with me wherever I am
That I know you, have seen your light in the universe
Have seen up close how that light can shine
I have seen you in your sparkling, blinding pink glory
And survived the conflagration
Gone through the gauntlets
To give Peace a Chance
To expose the opposition’s violence
And to prove that Pink is now a Class
And life has allowed me to pass,
Burned clean of any material ties
Through to you
I will not waste my opportunities
But I will wait for the right moments to act
And when I stand face to face with you
Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand
With an open mind behind my eyes
And an open heart beating in my chest
It will not be timing that is a problem but rather, time
And resources at our disposal
My sister remember resolve
Stand ready for action
Choose your battles and messages wisely
Sing for your life Sister
and you will call me to your side
Because we are a gentle angry people
Sing for peace
Sing for Justice
Sing My Sister, Sing for our lives.
Stand up and SING!
I will stand at your side.

Peace my Sisters,
Lori Perdue

Washington Capers

My name is Isabel. I have lived for three years in Panama. Originally I vigilled with Code Pink in the early days of 2003 before the Iraq War began. From my chilly stand long ago in front of the White House, I had a strong feeling this government was secretive, hostile, uncommunicative, and would rescind laws and even the Constitution in order to advance the neo-con agenda. Also I knew the upcoming pre-emptive war was for oil, never, never a government for the people, Iraqi or American. How right I was! Although the horror of the war far surpassed my expectations!As I walked through FDR's memorial, my thoughts were about how much of a humanitarian FDR was compared to the current government. And this makes me profoundly sad for my country and mostly for the American people. But I was glad I was making a stand for true democracy and freedom as FDR Jefferson and Lincoln had conceived many centuries ago!What an incredible week of activities with the indomitable group Code Pink -beginning with Happy Hour at the Justice Department to celebrate Gonzo's (Alberto Gonsalves, Attorney General) resignation - we sang, danced, and drank to Gonzo's departure dressed in our pink party clothes and top hats with going going Gonzo on top! We sang at the top of our voices about how Gonzo subverted the Constitution and civil law to allow torture, unbridled rescinding of human rights for those suspected of terrorism, expulsion of whistleblowers. For all of his lies to Congress and the American people activists are overjoyed he has taken his leave.Saturday morning about 10:30am, many assembled at Freedom Plaza, to get revved up for the ANSWER sponsored march against war - our wonderful songstress Betse led the spirited colorful crowd in songs of justice peace courage and strength - speakers spoke of the need to bring the troops home now! Other organizations involved were V-Day, Institute for Policy Studies, Coalition Against Sanctions and military Interventions in Iran Other women added their voices to this rally for freedom - then we formed a pink column before marching to join the ANSWER rally.The march was a resounding success for antiwar activists. Hundreds of thousands of people marched with one voice against the war - Code Pink was spectacular as usual, ladies and men dressed in varing shades of pink, singing and dancing, marching for peace. A great cheer rose as we approached the Capitol, where on top of the Impeachment bus (which was driven across the country from California) Medea, Gail and other Code Pinkers were waving to the masses that swarmed down Pennsylvania avenue. It was very exciting to see them there, witnessing for peace!Once at the Capitol, hundreds participated in a massive die-in - it was incredible to watch men and women join the veterans in this massive civil disobedience. The police decided there were too many people so arrest was off the plate until about 180 intrepid souls jumped off the wall into a crowd of hostile and often brutal policemen! These people were not only indicted, they were not given any food or water during their overnight stay in a barracks which had no beds.When releasedOn Sunday, we worked on visuals and banners for Monday's action, and had a great turnout of workers! Our planning meeting lasted for several hours as we carefully coordinated our efforts to get the message out to Congress - bring the troops home, end this lousy war, don't fund any war no more! People did research, coordinated media, planned activities for the day.On Monday, 160 people convened in Rayburn cafeteria, then we marched on Capitol Hill. In a guided tour of the Halls of Shame -Code Pink distributed certificates of shame to the Dirty Dozen, those Congressmen and women who had the worst pro-war voting records. We sang peace and justice songs in the atrium of Rayburn, the acoustics were wonderful. As we walked the halls of Congress, various constituents of the Congressperson we were visiting got to speak their piece.We were invited to meet with Ike Skelton's legislative aide, who is very pro-war - I believe the Aide was amazed at how knowledgeable our people were on issues. All in all a very good day in getting our collective word out and an impressive show on behalf of activism!On Tuesday, Code Pink targeted women legislators who continue to vote for war. Also there were various hearings going on that day - in particular one which dealt with wire-tapping. After Code Pinkers were detected by security - we decided to sport our signs reading "Don't tap my phone, the eye is watching you and others" and left the room chanting "defend the constitution".Recorded by C-Span. Several people were arrested at a rally labeled Families United, hosted by John Mc Cain, and other pro-war congressmen. Police were adamant counter demonstrators could not speak or in any way interfere with the permitted rally - the thought occurred to me - why were not the police as protective of the anti-war establishment at our permitted activities as they were of the pro-war groups! This constant hassling and belligerance was to become the norm during our activties throughout Washington. In successive days we visited various hearings and committee meetings - but the most interesting to me was the whistleblowers and Blackwater security issues - dealing in general with the largely unregulated activities o f private securing firms in Iraq. Blackwater alone has been paid over 4 billion dollars to provide security for dignitaries as well as other duties. When the news surfaced about Blackwater's being asked to leave Iraq, we immediately planned a demonstration in front of the military contractor involved. With the Pink Police sporting signs "pull the plug on Blackwater" Respect Iraq Sovereignty Blackwater out now" we were joined by other groups, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Grassroots America - we walked across city to the State Department, where we put on a rally. Our gal Liz was phenomenal as Condi - doing dances around Condi's offices - as we sang and chanted to "get Blackwater out of Iraq". Then a marathon march through downtown, asking the public to sign off on war.Some of us attended a pro-war on Iran hearing - also was a hearing on Veterans Benefits, we all agreed that their needs to be more done for injured and returning veterans. Mentioned were many instances of PTSD, one veteran we spoke with at the march was in a wheelchair, he was suing the Vets for incompetent care after the Vietnam war which rendered him paralyzed.Another committee was the Progressive Caucas, trying to get support for bills to end the war now. I had my foto taken with my all time favorite representative, Lynn Woolsey - who is unwavering in her support for Code Pink, among other groups. She is the co-sponsor of a comprehensive antiwar bill, which is having a rough time in Congress!On Thursday, all participated in a very moving ceremony in front of the Capitol. After approximately 35 veterans had been arrested inside the Capitol, an outside die-in was staged in front - and we each read out some of the American and Iraqi men women and children who have given their lives during this immoral war. It was very moving, and many of us cried for those who will never speak again. There were 55 police counted for 7 die in participants. In the end , only one was arrested for crossing the barrier. All for oil and the defense contractors!On International Peace Day, again the police were contemptuous of our activties. A group of about 9 were dressed in pink and visiting the memorials of Lincoln, Rossevelt and Jefferson. We were chanting and singing, holding fotos of the Iraqui dead! Eventually on some trumped up charges, one of the women was arrested and the rest of our names taken for future arrest! Washington is definitely a police district now!We also had wonderful potlucks and a very moving last evening with Betse Rose, our wonderful singer/songwriter from California. Very healing for all of us and a coming together!My heart goes out to the men and women of Code Pink - as a Washington Lawyer said, Code Pink does make a difference - viva la differance! Hasta Luego y PazIsabel

Friday, September 21, 2007

Arrest Footage of CODEPINK Women Who Peacefully Protested Lieberman in Upper Senate Park

Several CODEPINKer's were arrested for a peaceful protest at a pro-war rally where Lieberman was speaking on Wednesday September 19th on Capitol Hill.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


In Hill Offices, Protest Takes a Subtler Form

War Opponents Follow Up Weekend Rally With More Orderly 'Hall of Shame' Inductions

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 18, 2007; Page B03

After Saturday's raucous antiwar rally near the U.S. Capitol led to the arrests of 192 demonstrators, police at the Rayburn House Office Building yesterday braced for a confrontation with protesters who showed up to deliver written rebukes to members of Congress who support President Bush's Iraq policy.

As about 150 peace activists gathered by an entrance to the building on First Street SW, chanting slogans and singing protest songs, a dozen officers took up positions by the doors, a duffle bag filled with plastic handcuffs at their feet.

But getting arrested wasn't on the agenda.

Before leading the group into the building, one of the protest organizers, Medea Benjamin, a founder of the antiwar group Code Pink, approached the officer in charge, Capt. William Hanny of the U.S. Capitol Police.

"Okay, if we do anything you don't want in there, would you give us a warning first?" she said. "We don't want to get arrested today. We've got people catching planes tonight."

"We will give you a warning," Hanny replied. "But it's going to be up to you."

"Because sometimes people want to get arrested," she said. "They do what they have to do to get arrested. This is not one of those days."

The captain nodded. "Just don't block the hallways. Don't blow whistles. Don't cause a disturbance. Don't do any of that, and we'll be okay."

"Will you tell them to put the cuffs away?" Benjamin, 55, asked, smiling. She believes the Iraq war is criminal. So she said, "You can take those cuffs to the White House."

Hanny did not smile back.

And so it went yesterday as protesters took their antiwar message to the halls of several congressional office buildings -- an edgy demonstration at times but peaceful in the end.

"I don't believe we made any protest-related arrests at all," said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, after the activists had left.

As for the 192 demonstrators arrested Saturday, about five were still being detained yesterday because of outstanding warrants in other cases. The others, charged with illegally crossing police lines, were freed after paying fines or being issued summonses to appear in court, Schneider said.

Code Pink and numerous other groups opposing the Iraq war have planned several demonstrations this week in Washington and other cities, including protests yesterday at military recruitment centers. In front of a recruiting station, closed at the time, in the 1300 block of L Street NW, protesters marched all morning, their chants partly drowned out by construction noise.

"We have so many domestic needs right now," said Code Pink member Ellen Taylor, 54, of the Dupont Circle area. "We have education needs. We have serious health-care needs. We have reconstruction needs in New Orleans. And all these projects are getting shorted because money is being siphoned off by war contractors."

At the Rayburn building, the protesters gathered in the cafeteria at noon for lunch, talking excitedly about the afternoon ahead and occasionally shouting antiwar slogans. Then they rallied outside, chanting, singing and taking pictures, before organizing themselves for their march through the building's halls.

"People around the country have made it very clear," Benjamin said, addressing the demonstrators. "They went to the polls. . . . They voted to get out of Iraq. And the people in Congress are playing politics. They're playing inside-the-Beltway games."

Back in the building, the long line of protesters snaked along the halls, to the offices of Reps. Duncan Hunter and Dana Rohrabacher, both California Republicans; Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.). To each they delivered a "certificate of Induction into The Hall of Shame." Then they moved on to other congressional buildings.

"We'll keep pushing and pushing, and hopefully people will begin to listen," said Alexandra Herskovitz, 23, a Code Pink member from Los Angeles.

"There's just no way that over 100 people can come here and walk the halls of Congress and demand an end to the war and not be heard," said another demonstrator, Samantha Miller, 22, also of Los Angeles. "I know this will have an effect."

S.O.S. Nation In Distress

The morning of the Sept. 15th March on Washington began at Freedom Plaza with CodePink holding a Women’s Convergence. CodePink women were there, attired and accessorized in shades of pink, beautiful with feathers, lace, sequins, and scarves. Members of other activist groups also came and crowded around, ready for the day with their picket signs held high. Medea awakened the crowd as she spoke of the plans for the day and reiterated all of the reasons we must quickly and safely bring our troops back home. The crowd continually grew in number as the convergence went on. Betsy Rose sang lovely peaceful melodies. Liz and Medea helped to excite the crowd as they danced around in the lawn in front of the stage and toward the end of Betsy’s performance all of the members of CodePink joined her on stage to sing a few songs. Jes and Leslie spoke to the crowd about their recent trip to Iran. They told all who had gathered of the gorgeous people they met who inspired them to take action to bring about peace in the Middle East and prevent an attack on Iran. Dr. E. Faye Williams, National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, and Gael also spoke before we all regrouped to line up for the march to the White House.

We began marching, and as we approached Pennsylvania Ave, I began to see people from all walks of life, all political backgrounds, all ages, all colors, all sizes amassed in a wild fury of excitement to march together out of compassion, anger, frustration, and love. So many smiles, so much laughter, amazed at one another. They climbed trees to see, created signs of poetic expression, and filed in together all dressed up. Speakers at the stage in Lafayette Park rallied the masses. Many speakers came on stage, including CodePink, the best dressed of the bunch. We held peace signs high as Medea spoke inviting others to join in song with us as we marched, even to come stay with us at the house for future action. We all joined together and sang and stomped out the beats, jingling our pink tambourines as we sang, “We are many, we’ll be more, We are here to stop this war!” Standing up on the stage I looked out and saw so many beautiful faces. However, CodePink amongst the crowd stood out as the most vibrant of all the peace organizations.

We assembled in the street and marched together chanting, clapping, and yelling, with people as far as you could see. They lined the roads and sat watching on the grass. They climbed buildings and upon each other’s shoulders to see and be heard. It wasn’t until I climbed out to the top of this amazing bus that it became real to me the number of people that had all come together for the march. Medea’s friend drove a beautiful bus covered in political messages and statues of peace signs and flags. Members of CodePink stood atop of it to welcome the marchers as they neared the Capitol. We stood atop the bus and held up signs stating “STOP FUNDING WAR” and “DON’T BOMB IRAN” and gave the peace sign as we chanted. People cheered and waved as they passed. I remember hearing a couple of times, “I love you, CodePink!” from the marchers below.

Everyone proceeded to the capital. We straggled in with the last of them after we welcomed the end of the crowd and got down from the bus. It was extremely disappointing to find that the police had already put an end to the die in before it even began. It was pathetic in fact. People wanted to make a statement though. People lied beautifully in the grass together. People sat in circles together and others stood up near the Capitol landing chanting in protest of the police. Curled lying heads on others stomachs, some more expressive, lied eerily still with fingers entwined on their chests and their signs covering them, others ran about megaphones in hand, “They can’t stop us! Let’s all rise against!”

Out of curiosity I got up and joined in other CodePinkers who stood on the ledge of the walkway. SDS stood at the entrance to the walkway and sang and played guitar in beautiful harmony, and just past them the whole sidewalk was filled with bodies “dying in.” People were chanting, people were lying, the police were standing guard, and yet at the same time it was all in one elaborate and vibrant standstill. Suddenly, the Iraq Vets Against the War joined in circle as Adam Kokesh, a lead member, addressed the crowd. The people responded wholeheartedly, rallied and angered. Adam looked around at all of the people and then suddenly I saw him look down to his fellow veterans and with a wave of his arm they all turned back toward the Capitol and pushed through the crowd and with arms spread out, jumped up over the wall through the resistance of the police. It had to have been one of the most beautiful yet saddening things I have ever seen. The police led our heroes, our soldiers, up the steps, cuffed as criminals for defending their country against a government so corrupt. Noble, they did not fight it and it all escalated from there. All of the peaceful, loving people followed, pulled up from the ground and cuffed to ascend the steps of the Capitol. People from every state, some compelled only by that moment, joined in together to be arrested to express their passion towards ending this unconstitutional and immoral war. The number kept of growing.

Colonel Ann Wright, fed up, jumped over the wall. Many others followed as the crowd became wilder. Two men stood in front on the ledge and chanted as CodePink women joined in attempting to incite the crowd. The police began to pepper spray them and one of the men became violently ill, falling back into the crowd. A couple of CodePinkers were harmed by it as well. Relentless, as he gained back a little strength he pulled himself back up to show he was not defeated. Weak and unstable, though, he fell upon the police and after being handcuffed, had to be carried up the Capitol steps. As the event became more stagnant we decided to head back to the house to prepare for our party that evening.

As we gathered ourselves though, our plan changed as we heard that Carlos Arredondo was assaulted by pro-war activists who were angered at his protest which included his pulling a coffin representing his son who he lost to the war. Gael, Lori, and Medea ran off to comfort and support Carlos as he told his story. I sat down in the grass with Nancy and watched a couple of Indian tourists take one another’s photos with the Capitol in the background. They smiled brightly and I for a moment was taken aback thinking, “Oh my gosh! How horrible! That photo of the US Capitol which they will go back and show their families lined with an innumerable amount of cops!” At that point it had died down a little, but there were still hundreds of protesters and yet they were seemingly met equally in number by cops. The Capitol looked scary and yet it was a perfect representation of our country. The US, presently, is pretty scary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Account of Assault on Carlos Arredondo by CODEPINK woman who witnessed the incident

After the [September 15th] march, I was coming out of the porta-potties and wanted to sit in the shade because I was tuckered out. I saw Carlos walking slowly by, pulling his memorial to his son Alexander, which consists of a flag-draped coffin, Alexander’s boots, and a large photo of Alexander. He was holding a flagpole with a U.S. flag flying upside-down, which I took to be a symbol of distress.

Carlos saw me and waved; I waved back or flashed him a peace sign.

What happened next happened so fast it was surreal. I hadn’t realized that there was a counterprotest by the so-called Gathering of Eagles, a pro-war group that travels to counterprotest wherever anti-war activists gather.

Suddenly one of them rushed forward and snatched the portrait of Carlos’ son off the memorial. He then ran back to the safety of his mob group and tore Alexander’s photo to pieces. Quick as a wink, Carlos took off after that man and tried to get the photo back. Several members of the Gathering of Eagles then assaulted him en masse, beating and kicking him. It was a brutal attack.

A crowd had gathered around; I called Terri from NC who was resting at the lower end of the Capitol lawn and told her there was a fight, but I don’t think she realized where I was calling from and thought I was referring to the die-in arrests taking place further up the hill. She urged me to get away from the fight and join her on the lawn.

Before I left, I saw the Capitol Police arrive, including a female police officer on a bicycle. I looked up, and on the fringes of the crowd, I saw two tall, handsome men who were perched above somehow and were videotaping the whole scene. I hope they’ll come forward to give their videotapes to Carlos or to the police.

Knowing the circumstances of the death of Carlos’ son, I naturally started to cry and I turned and left for the safety of the lawn. I heard a man scream at Carlos, “That’s not your son—that’s an empty casket!” (What an idiot….) I also recall that as the crowd was beating Carlos, a young man with yellow, spiky hair was screaming, “They tore up his son’s photo! They tore up his son’s photo!”

Posted by Anne from North Carolina

YoutTube Video of CODEPINK Parading Through House Judiciary Hearing Tuesday September 18th

VIDEO BLOG: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Inducted into the Hall of Shame by CODEPINK

On monday September 17th, CODEPINK lead a delegation composed of numerous anti-war organizations and individuals into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office in order to induct him in the Hall of Shame.

There is also this video of CODEPINK singing "THis Little Light of Mine" in the hallway of the Russel Senate office building on the way to Mitch McConnell's office.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freeper Video Shows Peaceful CODEPINK Ladies Being Assaulted by Pro-War Thugs

VIDEO BLOG: Capitol Police Disrupt CODEPINK Rally @ Congressional Office

On monday September 17th, as they were preparing for their Halls of Shame tour in front of the Rayburn House Office Building, CODEPINK was rudely interrupted by the Capitol Police.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Touring the Halls of Shame!

Concerned Citizens Deliver Message to Congress: 'Shape up or we will
vote you out!'

March to Duncan Hunter's Office:

Shaming of Roy Blunt:

Large Delegation Inducts Members of Congress Into the Hall of Shame Today

See a photo slideshow here!

CODEPINK Women for Peace led a coalition of anti-war groups on a tour
through the halls of Congress on Monday afternoon targeting members
who are staunch supporters of the Iraq war, encourage military strike
against Iran, violate civil liberties, and those who receive oil and
defense monies. The delegation estimated to be 50 turned out to be 150
with members from over 25 states and dozens of national and local
peace organizations. The 150 broke up into 5 groups according to
region and visited 15 Members of Congress and presented them with a
Certificate of Induction to the People's Hall of Shame. A special
visit to Ike Skelton's office was added to the list because he used
profanities when referring to the CODEPINK women present at the
Petraeus hearing last week. The always creative CODEPINK women sang
him a special song using his own description of us to the tune of
Yankee Doodle (The song's chorus is Americans Seek Soldiers Home Our
Leaders Evade Solutions).

"Many people in Congress have become totally disconnected from the
people. We see this in their support for the war in Iraq and a new war
in Iran, and for taking away our precious civil liberties," says
CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin. "The outpouring of people in
Congress today shows that Americans are willing to travel the
distance, skip work and spend precious time away from their families
to deliver the message to Congress that we want them to work for peace
and to stop supporting this war!" says Desiree Fairooz, CODEPINK DC

Order as follows:

1. Duncan Hunter Rayburn 2265
2. Dana Rohrbacher Rayburn 2300
3. Dan Burton Rayburn 2308
4. Brian Baird Rayburn 2443
5. Ike Skelton Rayburn 2206
6. John Boehner Longworth 1011
7. Rahm Emmanuel Longworth 1319
8. Bob Etheridge Longworth 1533
9. Roy Blunt Cannon 217
1. Lindsey Graham Russell 290
2. John McCain Russell 241
3. Mitch McConnell Russell 361A
4. James Inhofe Russell 453
(take tunnel to Hart via Dirksen)
5. John Cornyn Hart 517
6. Joseph Lieberman Hart 706

Sunday, September 16, 2007

VIDEO BLOG: Iraq Veterans Against the War get arrested leading protesters through police line @ the U.S. Capitol September 15th

On Saturday September 15th almost 200 people were arrested at the capitol. This action was initiated by Iraq Veterans Against the War, but several CODEPINK women were arrested as well, and even more of us supported it in one way or another.

Check out this video shot by our friend Lionel:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

VIDEO BLOGS: Women Say No to War at White House and Capitol

CODEPINK marches in the street to the White House:

CODEPINK Women Join Anti-War Rally:

CODEPINK Near Capitol on Pennsylvania Ave:

Arrested at the Capitol

A personal account from the civil disobedience that followed the national peace march on Sept. 15, 2007
By Jes Richardson

In the movie Gandhi there is a powerful scene showing a long line of men standing in rows of four slowly moving forward. They are supporting workers on strike. As each row reaches the front of the line, the men are systematically clubbed by the waiting police. The next row of four steps forward to replace them and they, too, are beaten. This goes on for hours. These courageous acts of non-violence, and others like them, would eventually bring independence to India.

I watched from the steps of our nation's capital as the police threw demonstrators violently to the ground. They pushed people's faces into the cement and held them down with their knee as they tightened the plastic handcuffs behind their backs. One man was pepper sprayed in the face. Another woman had her arm pulled from the socket. The demonstrators were non-violent and did not resist.

The Iraq Veterans Against the War led the way. One by one they climbed up and over a wall and descended into the waiting arms of the police. They knew they might be injured, but their determination to end the war moved them forward.

I quietly joined them in line. Before I knew it, it was my turn. Medea Benjamin gave me a boost and up the wall I went. I stood on the top for a moment and looked back at Leslie. She sorely wanted to join me, but because of Lieberman's "unlawful entry" charge, she needs to stay out of trouble for the next six months. We each did our best to muster encouraging smiles. Filled with emotion, I held up the peace sign and over the wall I went ...

The policeman grabbed me by the arm. “Get on your knees,” he said. He tightened the handcuffs behind my back and guided me up the steps to the front of the Capital Building. I talked with him about my trip to Iran and how I’m doing my best to create a better world for our children. He didn't say anything, but he did seem to loosen his grip.

They loaded all 192 of us into four air-conditioned buses and a small paddy wagon. Wouldn’t you know I’d get the paddy wagon. On New Year’s Day I was arrested with CodePink on the Golden Gate Bridge and I got the paddy wagon then too. Just once I’d like to get the bus …

I was charged with "crossing a police line" and after approximately 15 long hours of processing I was "cited and released". The final consequences: a $100 fine, nothing on my record, and one act closer to ending the occupation of Iraq.

An interesting incident in lock-up ... We were getting a little loud at one point and one of the officers bellowed, "Keep it down!" Not a group to take orders easily, we took advantage of the prompt and proceeded to raise the roof with our hooting and hollering. The solidarity felt good. Later, we were told to sit down. People were standing up everywhere and an officer chose me to use as an example. "Sit down," he said after tapping me on the shoulder. I felt like a patsy. I took small footsteps and circled in front of my chair. "Really, you have to sit down RIGHT NOW!" he said. I continued the small circles, pretending not to hear him. "OK, that's it!" he said as he pushed me toward the side of the room. Six of them held me while a seventh slipped on the handcuffs. "Help!" I yelled out as they started dragging me towards the door.

Their commanding officer intervened and asked me what happened. I told her I felt like I had been singled out. She told me I needed to respect her officers. In general I thought they were acting professionally and I told her so. She told me she would consider dropping the additional charges if I thought I could behave myself. I told her I could. I asked her if she'd be willing to remove the handcuffs and she said she'd consider it ... in a while.

I walked out of there at 7:00 in the morning and was greeted by Leslie and a whole CodePink contingency. They met me, and a dozen other CodePinkers, with sandwiches, tea, and big hugs. They had been there ALL NIGHT because they didn't know when we'd be released. Thank you, CODEPINK, for your dedication and courage and thank you, Leslie, for your love.

Peace and Freedom,

Jes & Leslie

VIDEO BLOG: "Rolling Thunder" Pro-War Vets Group Visits CODEPINK at Home!

On friday September 14th, the evening before a mass anti-war mobilization in Washington DC, the Rolling Thunder pro-war motorcycle veterans showed uop at the DC CODEPINK house. What began as threatening posturing, turned into an engaging dialogue between the two groups who are political polar opposites.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

VIDEO: Memorial for Iraq War Dead During Heritage Foundation Forum

On Thursday September 13th, Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK took the stage during a conservative think tank forum. She announced that it would be appropriate to have a memorial for those who have died during the U.S. occupation, then she introduced Carlos Arredondo whose sone died in Iraq. After Carlos talked about his son, Medea read the New York Times op-ed written by 7 soldiers, two of which died in Iraq this week while General Petraeus was giving his report to Congress. After the reading, Betsy Rose sang the names of those 2 soldiers killed, and Medea responded, "We remember you."