"got freedom?" counter 'freedom ball'
folks have already set up at the two doorway entrances to the building. a codepinker tells me they have already been kicked out from inside (frozen tears, it's really cold out here), but that we've been told we can stand outside the doorways as long as we don't block traffic. we unfurl our banners, don our statue of liberty outfits and begin chanting "stop the celebration, end the occupation".
the police approach again, this time in mass. they tell me we have to retreat to the side walk across the street, behind the barricades and almost totally invisible to the people coming into the station. i protest. i tell them we've already compromised & moved out of the nice, warm, brightly lit building and are standing in the freezing cold on the side walk. they still insist that we move. i tell him, the one speaking, that we are just exercising our first amendment rights of free speech. he looks a little annoyed & threatens to arrest us if we don't move. i tell him calmly we are demonstrating peacefully, we are non-violent. he tells us to move. i ask to speak to his supervisor. he refuses and tells us to move. i insist on speaking to his supervisor. he tells me he has thousands of them. i tell him okay, pick the one in charge & let me speak w/him. he now begins to glower but i hold my ground. "who is your supervisor? call him on that phone thing" i motion to the ear piece he has visible in his ear.
suddenly, they all disappear, retreating quickly into the station - maybe they have bigger fish to fry. and we have a reprieve.
our numbers grow rapidly as other codepinkers join us and the abu ghraib fraternity folks. more police come, this time saying they represent the owner & that we are on private property, the owners' private property and that we need to move. again i try to spiel, we are exercising our patriotic rights, we are non-violent, we need our voice to be heard. he tells me we need to move to the sidewalk across the street. i tell him that is impossible - we will not be heard. i question where public property begins? he points to the sidewalk that is directly in front of us, across a little path. we agree to move to that spot - it is still in the path of those coming to the ball. we peacefully cross over the path & once again set up our banners & demonstration.
we continue to demonstrate, admonishing the party goers to trade their furs for supplies for the troops, to send their children to iraq, to support our troops & bring them home. more and more police have come - now we are surrounded on three sides by police. once again, we are approached by 2 men in suits, claiming to represent the owners - the african-american one does the talking, the older white man just makes grunts & disgusted faces. the spokesman tries to get us to move again - he's talking to an organizer who has the megaphone. they are getting into a heated argument. i interject, saying once again calmly, we are exercising our first amendment rights, we are fulfilling our patriotic duty. i explain as slowly as i dare how much we have compromised this nite: we really want to be inside at the ball. we agreed to leave. we were told we could stand at the entrance. we agreed. we were told we had to stand on the side walk. we once again agreed. then we were told we could stand here. this is yet another compromise we have made. he insists this is private property & we need to leave or be arrested. i tell him we've compromised, & did he really want to interfer in our right to protest?
suddenly we were joined by about 50 anarchists & black block folks - interesting. i asked the train station fellow if he really wanted to arrest everyone there? he kinda balked, the white guy turned & whispered in his ear - they both turned heel and left. i approach a fellow who appears to be the anarchists leader (hahaha) and welcome him as i tell him we appreciate their support. i also say that this is a non-violent event & that codepink asks everyone to respect that. he assures me that he will pass the word on to the ones that would chose to respect us. i ask him to pass the word on to everyone.
more cops arrive on motorcycle. they shift the lines a little, clearing a path so attendees can pass. most of them do so without comment, heads down, gowns gathered and suit jackets closed. the demonstration continues in full force as more and more people join us.
andrea gives a moving speech about the bill of rights and the geneva convention. she also updates us re:medea & diane - two of the brave codepink wimmin that are still in jail. we are having a jail support action in the a.m.
the attendees are now down to a little trickle - we're freezing so we decide to head out to the truck, which is parked about 4 blocks from the station. as we walk down the street, we notice tons of cop cars lining the streets - several appear to be surrounding my truck. when we get to the truck, we are told to stand on the sidewalk & wait. okay. the road has been cleared of traffic and all approaching traffic has been halted. we stand on the sidewalk for a few minutes & then see the motorcade approaching - bush get's to pass by my truck, the side that says "imprison bush for lying to lead us into war" glaring in the streetlights. we turn our backs as he passes by, booing and holding our thumbs down. we dissipated too soon - we probably should have guessed he was coming because of the number of police that showed up. oh well, at least he had to pass the truck!
as we drive down massachusetts ave, we pass yet another inaugural ball location - or rather a location that is sporting 4 balls - the lines of rich white people seem endless - never have we seen sooooooo many furs again! a young white male shouts from across the street 'fuck you, you're crazy, you should leave the country'. i yell back 'why aren't you in iraq? you need to be in iraq fighting for your president's oil companies instead of hiding behind your daddy's money and going to this ball.'
he is livid but silent, stalking across the street & giving me the finger - actually both fingers -he can't get them in the air high and hard enuff. linda & i debate whether we should pull over & hold a banner for these folks - but we are exhausted so we just drive by slowing & shout 'stop the celebration, end the occupation' to the baffled party-goers as we continue to pick our way thru the traffic to the codepink house. peace, sam