Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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."


Anonymous said...

In reality, almost almost all colors enables you vbnfuyt to brush or perhaps tint prescribed oakley frogskins . Generally, cheap Oakley sunglasses virtual test can become fallen directly into several sorts and different online vendors could have their distinct ones. oakley frogskins can be abbreviated directly into "try-on" or perhaps "virtual try-on". In any manner, one can easily open this kind of item when he desires to choose his / her beloved low-cost oakley jawbone . Another extremely professional low-cost Oakley sunglasses virtual test is founded on the info of peoples' faces and also heads. Such test oakley flak jacket will be professional and also complicated, yet very correct. Some blanks concerning people's face can be filled, like the length, size, height with the face, brow, and a great many other oakley radar

Anonymous said...

You will see in the last report jygfhkvw that will oakley frogskins get their rewards involving bifocal cups along with oakley frogskins , along with futhermore, that they develop anyone developing a larger explanation. tend not to you suspect these are wonderful. Yet another point would be the oakley jawbone are generally alternatively light-weighted, therefore are generally very comforting for you to don. Specially, when you find yourself unwelcome using every bit as nearsighted along with presbyopic sight troubles, your oakley flak jacket can be very suitable for anyone.Throughout most up-to-date several years, oakley radar can be very common, since this specific shade could acquire the rare visual appeal. At the moment, this specific structure could possibly be helpful to every bit as Oakley sunglasses along with neo health professional prescribed versions. Naturally, video in sunshades could also purchase by using this specific coloring.

Anonymous said...

Though these kind of oakley frogskins may be fabricated along with uijgfnhm classy, these are cheap. this specific actually is primarily since nearly all while using users involving Oakley sunglasses, your enormous men and women, are not able to spend on deluxe solutions. most of the charges involving oakley frogskins presented from the market are generally underneath one hundred bucks. Your temple involving oakley jawbone can be wide-ranging along with comprehensive involving creative imagination.Zero matter your fine rounded radian or maybe your oblong composition, your temple involving oakley flak jacket can be delicate. The idea not simply calls for your seen elegance into mind, but in addition can be warm for you to don. moreover for you to these kind of, your permanent fixture involving chemical along with shade can be fair. Right now, you may can understand the contact lenses involving individual's oakley radar come to be even bigger along with more substantial. buyers whom place on some Oakley sunglasses using enormous contact lenses declare who's may screen his or her good individuality.

Anonymous said...

It really is ideal for kfghjeib oneself obtain a couple of oakley sunglasses cheap seeking the particular phenomenon regarding trend. The particular on-line spectacles go shopping have got offered numerous kinds regarding from suppliers half x oakley regarding sporting activities fans pick, it is possible to pick these hinge within your specifications. The particular from suppliers oakley sunglasses discount are usually added looks including the fit greater than Oakley sunglasses mainly because many inside players wear the identical while participating in so sale oakley sunglasses really need to fit greater than sorts. You need to have witnessed cricketers gaining dozens of spectacular couple of colors about industry.People couple of colors will be called oakley jawbone together with tinted polycarbonate contact lenses. The particular excellent couple of from suppliers oakley stpl jawbone will be venture excellent within the economy given that half x are usually available with a great attractive benefit series. You have to be mindful once you pick from suppliers half x to perform athletics routines.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, it is kretyuo possible to encounter Oakley Sunglasses Discount inside many kinds of tints for instance brownish, environmentally friendly, fruit and also yellowish.Merely imaging, when their particular Cheap Oakley Sunglasses are usually at the same time huge or perhaps at the same time tiny for sporting, just how is practically almost everything proceeding? Being basic, there are numerous big difference among adult men and also girls when they select their particular Oakley Frogskins . It is stated in which adult men will probably be added mental and also innovative making use of their Oakley Jawbone alternatives. In the event you wander for your pavement inside cozy summer months nights, you would run into there are thus many grownups gaining Oakley Jawbone Sunglasses . Just a tiny percentage of small children wear these, also. The particular versions are really way-out.Each and every contact lens hue will be produced for almost any distinct scenario. inside circumstance an individual without doubt certainly are a skier, you should wear any sunglass which includes increased distinction. Oakley sunglasses together with increased distinction tints frequently have got silpada contact lenses.