Peace-In El Paso
A young man, here for the demo, approaches the truck as I pull up across the street from the Congressman’s office – which is right downtown and also across from the town square, affording high volumn foot and vehicle traffic! A perfect place for a demonstration!
It is so cold, my lips feel frozen together. We get out the banners and only 2 suitcases of shoes for now. As we set up, several more El Paso CodePINKers and activists join us. By the time we are finished, probably close to 10 of us have come out in the cold, end of the daylight, streets.
Two TV stations show up and I am on channel 4 (I think) live for the 5:00 news! Plus I get interviewed for the 6:00 news and a longer interview for later. Channel 26, the Spanish language station, also interviews me.
I rush to catch up with our “Peace-In” group that has gone ahead to meet with staff, the Congressman is in D.C. They haven’t gotten too far, as the private security guard isn’t allowing anyone to go up to the office – he has gone up to the 4th floor office and we await his return.
He comes back and tells us the office is closed. We tell him we have an appointment, ask for the number, ask him to go tell them we have an appointment. He finally aggrees to go. We have obeyed him thus far, waiting as he goes up and comes down the elevator.
There is another elevator and some want us to just get on it and go up. The group is divided though, with some who want to go, some who want to stay.
The guard returns and tells us again, the office is closed, it’s too late. He won’t give us the number but starts making threatening noises when someone suggests we just sit down and wait. He goes through the whole scenario about ‘his building’ and he’d call the police.
I don’t say what the hell do you think the police will do – I have to make it to D.C. – but I do ask very authoritatively if this is a public building, I motion to the beautiful marble floors and the oak banisters – not to mention the businesses and other offices around us.
I ask him if he’s kept up with the recent case in NYC where the private security tried to keep CodePINK out of a public building, the ensuing expensive court case, the waste of time, energy, resources, not to mention bad will toward such private police ill-informed tactics.
Someone asks him if he's homeland security. He says no with a snort.
He is not aware of the court case, but he doesn’t try any further to make us get out. Nor does he give us the phone number but I have found it and have called the office. A man answers, saying he already met with us. I say no he hasn’t – if he met with anyone, it wasn’t the folks who had the appointment, because we are here, in the lobby, waiting to come up to see them.
We have to meet in the lobby of the building that houses Democrat Congressman Reyes Office. Two immaculately dressed Hispanic men, one middle-aged and one younger, who are staff for Reyes, come down instead of allowing us upstairs.
The older of the two tells us Congressman Reyes is against the war, but there are "issues" to be worked out before he will commit to defunding the war. Congressman Reyes supports the troops.
I ask what ‘issues’ could he possibly have? The issue this democrat has is the same: he doesn’t want to be seen as not supporting the troops. What hogwash – I don’t say – but I do say we cannot allow the Republicans to define for us what ‘support’ for the troops looks like.
I demand to know how much of the budget actually goes to the troops? They do not know.
The young man, Eric, who has met me at the truck is a recent veteran – he speaks slowly and eloquently, saying hardly any of the funds go to the troops themselves. He speaks from experience and his friends experiences.
We leave, telling these staffers that we would like an answer by the 29th of January: will Congressman Reyes vote to give money to continue war in Iraq? Or will Congressman Reyes vote to give money to bringing the troops home promptly and safely?
Those are the 2 choices!