Protest at Ft Campbell, Clarksville Tennessee
I think it is the “Arise Women Arise” that is inspiring so many wimmin to respond – I got 35 positive responses that I counted, and 3 fuck yous – all from white men, 2 in trucks, one in a small car! So there goes the trend established yesterday in Atlanta for white men in trucks!
I did not stop until I reached the army base & the demonstration so I didn’t have a chance to talk with anyone.
I joined about 20 or so Tennessee activists this afternoon at “Patriots Park” in front of the military base Ft. Campbell. It was quite awesome and inspiring to protest with these wimmin and men. Eliz, a codepinker who had to drive at least 3 hours to come, was there by the time I arrived.
And there was the same cacophony of horn honks that accompanied me along the highway that continued here in the median that was a park and in front of the base.
Prior to my arriving, I heard a couple of young white men from the base had come by & torn down the “Impeach Bush” banner that hung over the railing. It had been re-hung by the time I got there & I hung the “CodePINK Women for Peace” banner next to it.
Two amazing things happened at this protest. First a young man with a bald head and dark skin smooth as the polished bark of a walnut tree, came & told us his plan for protesting war: all soldiers, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, or here, all soldiers take a 2.5 day furlough at the same time.
He was a reservist who had done 2 tours in Iraq – and was NOT going back for a third, no matter what!
Then a group of four white people – one old man in his late 70’s, a 30-something straight couple, and her mom – came to talk with us about the war. One of the protesters started talking to them first, saying “we don’t want to upset you but we’re wanting to make a statement here.”
I was a little taken back by her approach – although I wasn’t here when the white boys tore down the banner. Still, I said “she doesn’t want to upset you but I want to upset you if you are supporting war! I’m so very upset & I think we should ALL be upset about this continued occupation of Iraq”
The straight couple then told us they were military, both of them – and both of them had done 2 horrific tours of duty in Iraq. She was 7 months pregnant, she explained, tears springing to her eyes. He’s scheduled to return in October, she wept. His eyes were wet also and soon we were all weeping.
I handed him my last GI rights hotline card. I told him to call them. I told him he did NOT have to go. I told him we did NOT want him to go. In fact, we are begging him NOT to go.
The old man told me he never voted for Bush or the war in the first place & he was furious that his family were being used by Bush to make that man rich! He said his father was turning over in his grave after the vote the Democrats took this past week, giving Bush the money to continue war.
The womon soldier was pretty sure they were not going to send her because of her baby. Then the wimmin from Tennessee all started telling of the grandmothers they personally knew of who were taking care of grandbabies at 64 years old because their daughters & husbands were both sent to Iraq or they were single moms, sent to Iraq.
It was heart-breaking.
I left with two fellows from the NAACP. They took me to an organic coffeehouse with free wireless so I could get some of this writing done!
We talked for a long time about how frustrating and helpless they were feeling about organizing in Tennessee – about how much trouble they were having getting people to step up to the plate; how disappointing and wearisome it is trying to get folks motivated to end war, to end racism, to work for something besides the mighty dollar.
It gave me pause to hear the same challenges to organizing in Tennessee as we have in the bay area – and in Georgia – and everywhere in this country.
I spoke about the Summer of Protest – folks politely listened but no one said, YES I will do this…. We’ll see!