Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Road to the DNC, Part 3: Unconventional Women at the DNC

Well, the Democrats have kicked off their convention, and Code Pink has kicked off ours!

Inside the PepsiCo-CaptainMorgan's-McCorporateCenter, Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama had their moments (while Jimmy Carter was deprived of his), and outside of the convention center, it was time for Code Pink to advocate for peace and justice and shine the light on the whole “two-party, representative government" farce...

And shine we have!

Day One of the convention was a great day for Code Pink, with lots of actions, “too many to keep track,” per Liz.

Like Code Pink co-founder, Gael Murphy, Liz made particular note of the large demonstration at Cuernavaca Park, where peace advocates positioned themselves to spell out: “MAKE OUT, NOT WAR!” on the lawn, providing a great aerial visual, an image which was captured by our Jim Preston!

With so much going on, Code Pink is spread out in several teams, attending various events at different locations:

Some of us visited the government-designated "Free Speech Zones," the caged protester areas (I prefer the "free range" variety, myself -- much more ethical). Code Pink wore our “I Miss America” sashes and crowns and had pink tape on our mouths marked with the words “FREE SPEECH.”

(What can we say, we're nostalgic for the days when the First Amendment meant something and Americans could peaceably assemble in public areas to signify our dissent; now we get caged pens miles from the events we're protesting, and legions of nameless riot police armed with pepper spray... and apparently all too willing to use it, as was reported on DemocracyNow! this morning).

Code Pink took several pictures of the events and activities, including us on our Pink Bicycles and the police on their bikes... which were not pink. When Code Pinkies asked the police why they were filming us, we got NO answer.

According to Gael, the police presence is massive, which has scared a lot of people away. Nonetheless, the police with whom she has interacted so far have conducted themselves in a professional, “even friendly” manner... though they can't give directions worth a damn (apparently most of them are NOT from Denver).

Finally, Code Pink, including co-founder Medea Benjamin, made our presence felt at an event featuring Speaker of the House, Nancy “Know Your Power” Pelosi (who apparently knows neither her power nor her obligations under the Constitution... Hey, what's an oath and a mandate when you're busy taking things off tables, ignoring state torture, and funding illegal occupations?).

Check out today's DemocracyNow! with Amy Goodman (www.democracynow.org) for an excellent account of some of the inappropriate conduct of the police at the convention, including the following exchange with Medea Benjamin at the Pelosi event (the following transcript is courtesy of DemocracyNow! of Tuesday, August 26, 2008):

REP. NANCY PELOSI: People said to me, “How did you go from the kitchen to the Congress? How did you go from being a homemaker to being the House Speaker?”

UNIDENTIFIED: Row three, section four!

CODE PINK PROTESTER: Nancy, you lied right to my face! You [inaudible].

CODE PINK PROTESTER: [inaudible] do not torture! Women do not torture! Leaders do not torture!

CODE PINK PROTESTERS: [singing] When we make peace, when we make peace, instead of war, instead of war, when we make peace instead of war, oh, how I want to be in that number, when we make peace instead of war. When we make peace, when we make peace, instead of war, instead of war, when we make peace instead of war…

MEDEA BENJAMIN: And is it a public space?

POLICE OFFICER: Well, it is, but—

MEDEA BENJAMIN: No buts. It’s a public space.

POLICE OFFICER: I will have to double-check on that.


POLICE OFFICER: And once I do, if it is a public space—

MEDEA BENJAMIN: We appreciate that.

POLICE OFFICER: We—I’ll be back to talk with you. But if it ain’t, you guys are going to have to leave, OK?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Thank you very much.

Yeah! Alright! Well, they told us to leave, and we said, “Why?” And they said, “Because we want you to.” And then we said, “Is it a public space?” And he kind of said, “I’m not sure.” So he’s going to check whether it’s a public space, because what we’ve found, just in the last two days, is they keep saying spaces are private when they’re not private. So, part of our work is to take back public spaces for the public.

POLICE OFFICER: This is a public thoroughfare.


POLICE OFFICER: But this is private property, so you’re going to have to leave.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, wait, I don’t get it. If it’s private property in a public space, then what I understand—and I’ve studied this a lot—is that you can’t block passage. You have to make sure people can get through. So if you want to tell us where we have to be so that we’re not blocking people, then I totally understand and respect that.

POLICE OFFICER: At the very end of the corner, very end of the pavilion, or the other side here.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: You know what? We’re almost done anyway. Just give us a chance. We’ll sing one or two more songs, and then we’ll leave.

POLICE OFFICER: They want you to leave. So I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

CODE PINK PROTESTER: There’s no law like that.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: They want a lot of things. I want the war to end, you know, and I can’t get what I want, so we can’t all get what we want. But we can try sometimes. [inaudible] negotiated, two more songs.

CODE PINK PROTESTERS: [singing] I sing for the mothers who have no voice, for their power, for their blood—mothers of soldiers at war, for their sorrow, for their love.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Stood up for our right to not only protest Nancy Pelosi, but to make public space public. We got our one song. Now, we get our last song. And which one are we going to do?

CODE PINK PROTESTERS: [singing] Pelosi doesn’t speak for me. We shall not be moved, just like a tree, that’s standing by the water. We shall not be moved. Bring the soldiers home.

AMY GOODMAN: And those were members of the antiwar group Code Pink, featuring its founder, Medea Benjamin. They had interrupted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi being interviewed inside before more than a thousand women for a day that was called by the DNC “Unconventional Women.” Special thanks to Elizabeth Press for producing that report.


reunionpi said...

Speaker Pelosi's problem with the Seagrams property


Melissa said...

What an experience. One Pink way that I celebrated today which some would think to be unconventional, was the womanly self-exploration and empowerment I found in Dana Dorfman's book The Pink Forest. A truly enriching experience that all women should have.