House Demos Retreat or Bush Propoganda Ranch
Bush has been invited to address the House Democrats at their retreat – an unprecedented invitation. What the hell are the democrats thinking? Are they going to buy this war? Are we going to allow them to buy this war?
I hope everyone is planning on occupying their Congressperson’s office for the next 8 weeks – every day or as many days, as many hours as possible.
We plan on leaving at 5:00a.m. – we actually get on the road at 5:45! It is very cold, dark and yet exciting: we are spreading the CodePINK message as we drive and we’re determined to let Bush and the House Democrats know exactly what we think.
I have to get the oil changed – it’s over 1000 miles overdue. I have found a Speedco just north of Richmond. We get there before 7:00a.m. I’m on high alert – the shop is manned by white males only.
We wait our turn but it is about 7:45 before we find out that they do not have the filters – grrrrrr – we’ve wasted an hour waiting but we’ve talked a little to the shop manager. He is not committing to ending war but I don’t think he’s so pro-war and angry that he’ll damage the truck.
So we’re off again to Williamsburg. Travelers pass honking, smiling, waving, or giving peace signs, nods, ‘I love you’. There are no fu’s or thumbs down!
When we finally get to Kingsmill Road and the Busch Gardens, there are about 100 protestors gathered on each side of the road and swelling! We drive back and forth, honking, waving to the excited demonstrators, so happy to see the truck & us as we are to see them!
We park in the Starbucks lot and Toby & Lori only have to walk a long block in Bush & Cheney heads & prison outfits to get to the protestors.
As we approach the action, folks cheer, take pictures, and the press swarms. I get to speak several times on the open mike, informing folks about Occupation Project, HR508, and occupying their Democratic Congresspersons’ offices.
I meet about 5 or 6 beautiful young wimmin from Hampton College. I talk with especially two of them about the upcoming student strike Feb 15th and maybe launching a CodePINK Chapter with that action. They are frustrated and feel powerless to start organizations of their choice let alone hold demos on their campus, a private school that blocked their attempts to protest this past fall and to start a gay-straight alliance!
We talk about contacting the ACLU or the NLG to get them support. We talk about their rights and standing up for their rights. And ending war! We talk about their last anti-war protest and how quickly the campus police shut them down.
We talk about this strike on the 15th and what protesting on Hampton College will look like. They are excited and willing to try. I recommend the next step: contact the ACLU or NLG & get back to me.
Two beautiful, young wimmin in their group decide to bottom-line this! They start talking about who to get involved and how. I ask them if they’d like to speak on the open-mike – they get all their friends, walk boldly up to the mike and introduce themselves and proceed to talk about the strike on the 15th, organizing CodePINK on their campus, and inviting folks to join in!
I promise them I will come when they’re ready.
I meet another awesome womon from Richmond. She is willing to take over the local coordinator job, as the present coordinator is overwhelmed! She thinks her Congressperson is signed on to HR508 already – I’m skeptical, I don’t remember a Virginia Congressperson signed on! She promises to double check. We discuss doing a banner drop then instead of an occupation, and a CodePINK meeting afterwards.
Several more young wimmin from William and Mary come. One of them knows about the WITS action and wants to do it on her campus. We talk about launching a CodePINK chapter on their campus and about the strike on the 15th – they are excited and continue to plan amongst themselves.
I talk with a mother from Williamsburg – she loves CodePINK and is too busy with her toddler, work, life to do much CodePINK organizing but she brings over another womon who is interested. These two hook up with the William and Mary students, as they are both close and want to do an action and maybe a chapter together!
I announce our action coming up Sunday at the Russell Building for the Occupation Project. I talk about Lt. Watada.
Bush leaves in a motorcade or helicopter – we don’t know which – we only know the state police in full riot gear have lined up; the Blackwater mercenaries are huddled in a corner behind some bushes; and the city police have graciously moved us 100 feet from the road.
The city police have all been friendly, reasonable, and soft-spoken. We take pictures of all of them. Bush in his prison garb kneels in front of them, begging forgiveness. He knocks over & tramples a small flag that has been placed in the ground – it seems fitting!
We return to the city, 3 ½ hours and one oil change (that we all snooze thru) later – we do get 2 white men giving us the finger but most of the folks passing are very supportive. We are especially satisfied with the reactions as we have passed through many military bases and installations!