we STAND up: the army stands down - PORTLAND
At the first STAND-UP our numbers swell to around 15-20 demonstrators - quite fabulous considering we just organized the Stand-Up the nite before at Medea's book-signing. Broadway is a very high trafficked 3 lane, one-way road thru northeast Portland very close to the Lloyd center, a huge downtown-ish indoor shopping mall. KBOO (Portland's fabulous progressive radio station) is there in force, as is another videographer (sp?), who accompanies us to both STAND-UP's and keeps the camera rolling!
The army recruiting station is closed. No sign is up indicating why they’re closed so we tape signs to the windows “the army stands down: we STAND-UP” and “the army lies, our children die”. We line up on either side of Broadway, holding more signs. Almost EVERYONE passing by who responds, does so positively! It is great. While we are standing there, one of the women says she wants to go to the other recruiting station on 82nd & Powell – the less ‘warm & fuzzy’ neighborhood. So several CodePinker’s & our videographer decide to join her & meet there at 2:30p.m.
I drive into the parking lot at the shopping center & see one person, Rabia, has made it there before me. As I park the truck, a security officer comes tooting around the row of cars & calls out a greeting to me as he approaches. I call back a greeting, turn my back & walk in the opposite direction to meet Rabia.
The young, white security male gets back into his little vehicle & drives all around the rows to come park next to us. He gets out, approaches us with a “hello ladies, what are you doing here today?”
I look around to see who he’s talking too, realize it is us, & tell him “I’m not a lady”. He then calls me ma’am – I say “I am a womon, a CodePink womon for peace”. He says we can’t be loitering there – we laugh without putting into words he can’t be standing there talking to us like that.
He tells us do we realize we are on private property? I tell him does he realize he’s interrupting a private conversation? And we turn our backs – he takes off…
Rabia and I walk over to Wall-Mart to look for the other cp’ers & to pee – and to confuse the security, which doesn’t seem to be difficult.
We return to the recruiting offices, notice they are open & approach the recruiters who are all standing outside their doors. We ask them about the military’s stand-down day. They say it is only the army that has a stand-down day. We get to the army’s door, speak w/the recruiter there who claims he is there for ‘personal’ work, not military! When Rabia asks him about ‘stand-down’ day, he responds “no comment”. We pursue questioning him as he flees into the office repeating 'no comment, no comment' & closes the door.
The other CodePink women have arrived, so have the signs & our videographer person. A tall, very skinny older white male dressed in a dark suit approaches us & aims his scowls somewhere on the back wall between everyone & announces that we can stay as long as we don’t ‘interfere’ with anyone. I try to get him to shake my hand as I introduce myself & ask him his name. First he tells me he’s the manager of the mall. I reintroduce myself & ask his name again. Ken Turner he blurts. He is trembling with rage I believe, but trying to remain calm. I reassure him, in case it is fear that is making him tremble, we are CodePink:Women for Peace – we do not intend to interfere with anyone. We intend to stand up for peace.
Rabia gets out a sign & he returns, livid, telling her signs interfer with people.
We decide to march down the sidewalk, passed the recruiting offices, the other small shops, and the large Albertsons – and back again. I notice a very tall, white male with a shaved head stands within a few feet from us. He marches back & forth in tandem – as if he’s tethered to us.
As we return to the recruiting offices, two young white males come out of the marine office – we engage in an intense conversation. I ask them if they’re enlisting – the over-weight one says forcefully “hell, no”; the other one, shorter than me & skinny, says he’s thinking about it. I ask him ‘why?’ He tells me because he’s angry & he’s ready to fight.
I ask him if he’s ready to kill someone? He averts his eyes and quickly says yes. I call him son, ask him again, to look into my eyes & tell me, he’s ready to kill someone? He says yes again, with a little less macho bravado. As I look at him, he explains that someone pulled a gun on him last week & he’s angry & he knows that he can kill someone.
Okay, so someone here in Portland pulls a gun on him and he thinks it’s okay then for him to go to Iraq & kill someone over there…. go figure!
The recruiter has come out the door & calls him back into the office. We tell him there are so many reasons not to join & give him some information from the afsc & resisters.org.
We continue the vigil – the same tall white male walking w/us. I offer him a sign. He glares at me & says he doesn’t want me to talk to him. I say oh, okay & address the other codepinker’s – I guess he’s security & I hope he’s getting paid more than minimum wage to stand out here with us.
That pushes his buttons & all the sudden he does want to talk. I ask him why he’s so mad at us? We’re there trying to get the military to tell the truth, to stop lying to our children to get them signed up for war – does he not think the military should tell the truth to young people?
Rabia finds out the security guard has called the police. I’m confused – the manager said we could be there but security has called the police? We decide to march up to the busy road & vigil there for awhile.
82nd is a huge road with tons of traffic. Like Broadway, everyone again is so positive – giving us the peace sign, honking & waving! It is quite rewarding standing there – especially as women reveal the last time they were there, it was so negative! Times are a-changing!
Clouds gather, 4:00 rolls around, we decide to disperse. As I’m walking back to the truck, a single Portland police office drives up. He approaches & someone tells him we are leaving. He says okay & drives off, circles the lot, and leaves.
We talk about doing the Wednesday vigils in front of the recruiting stations – there seems to be lots of support for that.