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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Thursday, October 14, 2004

more anti-cheney protest - continued

Did I mention to you there was one solitary soul standing in front of the stadium holding a "another veteran for Kerry" sign when we walked up? These are the truly brave heroes of our movement, the individuals that are so committed they are willing to stand alone among republicans. You have to realize there are hundreds of bush supporters, 99.9% white and many of them young, testosterone driven males frying in the heat & humidity of south western Florida, lined up and anxious for their shot of meanness from their leader.
As soon as the rest of the crowd finally realized that we were getting all the news coverage, they began hurling obscenities and profanities in our direction – all of which we ignored. Then they began chanting “four more years” only we added “of war”, “of hate”, “of lies”, “of poverty” in between – they got discouraged quickly and then started yelling at us to go home, we didn’t deserve to live in america, and the like. We were glad for the opportunity to begin our “tell me what democracy looks like” “this is what democracy looks like” chant in response.
So even tho we were allegedly not allowed to protest in front of the building, you better believe we did! The police, now our friends, did not make a move to stop us. But shortly after we finished our chant, we turned our backs on a now silent crowd, and made our way back to the truck.
We decided to go in leslie’s (the mom who joined us) car back to the other protestors at the beginning of campus to tell them we can protest here, where the cars are coming in. There the numbers had swelled to about 20, but still did not include other codepink wimmin nor leslie’s friends. We went to search on yet another side of campus & there they were! We all decided to gather together w/the first 20 to greet the motorcade but as we went, we were suddenly stopped behind a small line of cars! There were state police stopping traffic, lining the streets – yes, we’d run into the motorcade. All 4 of us jumped out of the little toyota, popped the trunk, and grabbed our banners. We raced down the grassy shoulder of the road, heading for the corner. Big white cops shouted at us to stop & return to our cars – yeah, right. We took the banners and crossed to median to the other side, only to be herded back across the road. We ended up standing even with the first police officer’s car, which was acceptable.
Our banner was huge and easily read by the entire cheney motorcade – they had already passed the first group of protestors. One of our huge generic banners said “welcome to florida liar”; the other said “cheney lies, fire him”.
After the motorcade passed, we all returned to our new, closer protest spot and set up, waiting for the hordes of folks leaving the arena. We set up at the corner, on the sidewalk by the road where everyone had to drive out. Our friendly cop smiled and kinda waved. We were joined by more demonstrators and we talked with many passing students – we were also in front of their dorms.
Another police officer careens to a stop in front of us, gets out & starts yelling he’s already told us we can’t be there. As i’m trying to calmly tell him about the chief deciding we can stand there, our friend officer addresses him by his first name & tells him the chief gave his okay. It takes a lot of convincing before moe grumbles something into his radio. He still wants us to move down – he gestures far away to a place where we would not be visible to the road – grrrrrrrr. We refuse. He threatens. I ask him if he really wants to make a big issue of this? I tell him we need his support to protect our constitutional rights. He appears a little confused, I mean diffused. I offer to compromise – he’s claiming we’ll cause accidents at the corner w/folks busy looking at us & not driving. This is a 2 lane road (one lane going one way, the other coming back), mind you, with a small shoulder in a 10 mph zone – well, it is an intersection where 2 equally small roads intersect! okay, we offer to move 10 feet down the road so we are not directly at the corner. We have a deal! And our ally cop has something in his eye!
I’ll spare you most of the comments the good republicans felt obliged to throw at us as they left their second in command. But I will share one conversation I had with a group of about 6 white women who were riding on the back of golf cart that was probably shuttling them to their cars. The six of them were sitting tight (although not tight enuff) lipped, prim & proper, looking like they just left church – total jewelry, make-up, matching purses – oozing wealth & snobbery & cleanliness.
After telling us we’re a disgrace & we should get a job or go home, I asked them if they could care about education in our country, I asked them to care about all the schools that were closing, all the tuitions that were rising, all the children desperate to learn that were being crowded into classrooms without supplies, without teachers, without safety.
Just when I thought maybe their silence indicated education was our common ground, one of them yelled “get used to it!” And they all simultaneously picked up her ugliness – “yeah, get used to it” they decided to chant.
So much for republicans.
Lauren, ariel, and i were among the last to leave the parking lot – we had to peel off the litter republicans had stuck to my truck, garbage cans were lacking in the lot! And off we went, back to sarasota. 2 ½ hours later we joined the rest of codepink wimmin on the street corner for banner waving!!! That was much more fun and appreciated by mostly all. But the best part of the day was when we folded up the banners at dusk and andrea suggested we go to the beach!We drove the 4 miles to the white sands & warm waters of the bay, donned long bright pink t-shirts sans bathing suits, and walked into the water as the sun descended over the horizon, leaving trails of dark red between the edges of the black nite sky and the black ocean waters. There we stayed, each in our own warm thoughts, still blessed by the really important things in life, the water, the air, the nite. Love, sam

I have no lord...

This morning, my compañera Ariel and I met Lauren in the Publix parking lot – we were car-pooling, in this case truck-pooling, to Ft Myers to protest bush’s vp’s appearance there. Ft Myers is an hour ride that took us almost two hours to arrive. He was appearing on a sprawling college campus, the Florida Gulf Coast University. We found out later that this land we are on used to be wetlands that were paved over in order to hold this environmental studies college – go figure. When we turn off the road to drive onto the campus, a handful of Kerry supporters stand on the corner – we honk madly and wave at each other!
We drive quite a ways onto the campus before we see the arena. We follow the students directing us to park on a huge field next to the stadium where cheney is scheduled to appear. I skip a few empty spaces to park at the end of the lane so that I have easy leaving access – and more truck visibility. Almost instantly security appears – a buff white male little older than the students –  who shouts at me get back in line. I calmly explain to him I need room to turn around without damaging someone else’s vehicle. He finally tells me okay in terms that make it seem it was his idea. As we get out the truck, a young white womon and her 4 year old son pull in next to us and introduce themselves as fellow activists who were looking for us! We’re happy to connect. Last nite when we sent out the action alert, we were unable to chose a meeting spot because we’d never been to Ft Myers previously.
We began to naively take out the banners when the same youngish cop returned to tell us we’re not allowed to protest here. He’s joined by another white male officer who takes macho to new heights. This officer imperiously directs us to leave the parking area, leave this part of the campus and to go to the student union – the empty student union – where there is a “free speech” protest area set up for us.
I refuse and demand instead to talk to the man in charge – I’m informed the chief is not there. I get his phone number and call his office. The young person who answers the phone struggles to be polite and helpful. When I do not accept the ‘chief is out of the office routine’, she agrees to radio him. As I’m waiting on the line, Lauren puts in a quick call to Andrea to get her expert advice – can they really tell us we can’t protest in front of the building?
While I’m holding on the phone, the macho police officer keeps attempting to get us to move along. We inform him that we are going in to see our vice president. He asks for our tickets and we are ready with “Our friends are meeting us out front with the tickets.” He howls with contempt and declares snidely: “You’re never gonna get in cause they’ve given out five times the number of tickets then they have room for.” He points out the absurdly long line of white republicans standing in stifling heat and humidity waiting to get into the building – the place we want to be.
While I’m holding on the phone, the first police officer seems to have shifted allegiances – his peer’s macho-madness seems to make him more calm and reasonable, even almost supportive! Lauren whispers to me that Andrea affirms we have the right to protest but reminds us there’s not enuff of us here yet for some of us to get arrested and out of commission for however long they decide to detain us.
While I’m still waiting on the phone, our kind officer informs us that he’s just heard from the chief and we can protest on the sidewalk along the sides of the road where the cars are turning into the parking lot (instead of shut away at an empty student union) – a victory if I’ve ever seen one!!!!
We thank him for his efforts and continue to head towards the building, sans signs except for the clothes we’re wearing. Macho man tries to stop us but our new friend informs him we are not going to protest, just pick up tickets.
As we approach the building and the long lines of melting republicans, we see a lone Vietnam war vet standing and holding a large “Another Viet Nam war veteran for Kerry” sign. We whoop and holler as we walk towards him. There are five adult protestors now and we scan the crowds for the rest of the CodePINK womxxn. Leslie, the young mother that has joined us, tells us there has to be other protestors – she belongs to a large local group that was committed to demonstrating today.
While we’re talking, a TV cameraperson and reporter approach the vet to interview him. He only gets to speak briefly before a very well-dressed white-haired republican white woman (not to be redudant), probably in her 70’s pops up and begins challenging him and his position. I ease over to stand behind yet between the two. When this woman states that bush is a christian man, I immediately take over the interview and get to have this woman explain to me “What exactly is christian about bush?”
“Why he prays every day, and he reads his bible,” she claims with acute religious authority, the cameras steadily rolling.
“Oh okay,” I respond, my words dripping with incredulity I hope. “So he prays and reads his bible and this makes him a christian? I always thought it was the works a man does in his life that determines his christianity, following in the footsteps of Jesus.”
She turns and sincerely reassures the viewing audience “President Bush indeed does follow in the steps of Jesus, by protecting our country and keeping us safe.”
“By bombing innocent women, children and men?” I persist.
“An eye for an eye” she vehemently spits out at me.
I attempt to hide my glee as I tell the viewing audience and her “And Jesus said, you have heard it said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say unto you love thine enemies, do good to those who would harm you. How has bush loved our enemies and done good to them?’
At this point, my good Christian woman turns heel as she yells at me “If you’ve really taken jesus as your saviour, you’d understand our sweet lord.”
I yell back, even though I tried not to: “Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers.” And even though I really wanted to say “I have no lord, sweet or otherwise,” but that was off-topic.
The cameras didn’t follow her but kept rolling on me this time – I ignored them as I spoke with the reporter, explaining why we were here, how crucial it is to get the message to cheney we know who he is, we know about his Halliburton connection driving us into war so he can get even more wealthy by helping himself to Iraqi’s oil. I got to say the only moral and conscious thing for cheney to do is to resign. I got to talk about domestic issues and cheney’s vote against the assault weapons ban that recently was allowed by this administration to lapse.
We all got major news coverage, no arrests, and we were happy our work was finished for the day.