Code Pink Journals CodePINK Journals

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

Monday, November 01, 2004

the freespeech shut-up

4. 13- wed pinkslip kh, rally, new home
5. 14- thursday ft myers pinkslip cheney, corner vigil, beach
6.15 - friday 9:00 meeting, noon w/casket folks, table nite - head to west palm beach
7. 10/16 saturday wpb & w, documentary, jax
8. 10/17 jax –sunday – met pete, scoped out location for banner drop, met josh, got locked in parking garage, fuel – pics from rnc & codepink, demo headquarters,
9. 10/18 mon – banner drop, jj rally, white military boys, interviewed bush woman, election headquarters,
10/19 tally – Glenda hood, banner waving, state dept building, progressive center, women’s activist camp -= returned to jax
oct 20 wed – cindy comes, beer, corner banner waving, & medea speaks
oct 21 thurs – cp organizing meeting, banner waving gateway
oct 22 fri – banner making party, repb hdqrts, publix
oct 23 – anti-bush demo
oct 24 sun – banner for fuel, drive to Miami
oct 25 mon – arrive in Miami, get acclimated – 5:00 broadwalk, 9:00 riverwalk, meet laurie, hook up w/medea
oct 26 tues meet laurie – vote – four more years hotel, demo’s, naacp, banner wave missed, event
oct 27 wed – Lauderhill mall, election supe’s office, news, anti-war coalition recruiting station, mm prep – gay/lesbian part of town
oct 28 Thursday – colleges, whole foods, downtown - mm
oct 29 fri operation bubbe, return to duval county, police at shopping center, wimmin,
oct30 sat – meet up w/cp wimmin, banner, the n word lovers – twice, canvased
oct 31 sun - tabled a church, codepink caravan for kerry – malls & neighborhoods, codepink pinkslip squad

flip/flop – rep campaign strategy

the baby killers & the n lovers!

it is hot and muggy in Jacksonville & we have no shade but plenty of water as we stand on a busy street entrance into the stadium – folks from Georgia and Florida are playing football today & codepink has a new megaphone to address the hundreds of thousands of cars rolling by! after our last experience with the scary violent republicans at the bush rally, we were all a little tentative but bravely strode forward to greet the fans w/ our great banners & signs: ”no stolen election”, “don’t allow bush to be re-selected”, “bush lies, fire him” and “vote Kerry”, etc.
we are all delighted to find at least half of the responses are from wildly enthusiastic kerry supporters! and then there’s the republicans – but things are sure different when you’re the one holding the loud-speaker! we got to call them out by car or truck & shame all the violent, loud, limited white men (and some women) who flipped us off, called us names, and generally did their posturing thing for us. not to mention how we got to actually talk with them, stuck in traffic – even the ones that hastily rolled up their windows after screaming obscenities at us, had to hear our calm response, our informed retort to their ignorance.
we were called baby killers by women & men alike; we got to demand they be really pro-life and stop the killing in iraq. when we were called communists, dykes & freaks we got to call people on their bigotry, demand they cease name-calling, & ask them to embrace & value diversity & dialogue. many men and a few women were totally stressed out by the amount of hair they could observe on places other then our heads! who remembered armpit hair could be such a powerful thing! and if they dared try to shout ‘4 more years’ we got to say ‘of war, of lies, of poverty, of tax-cuts for the rich’. when they said ‘go bush’ we said, yeah go to texas bush or go to hell bush!
then there were the even uglier white males who shouted ‘n…lover’ at us – not one, but two different white men at 2 different times. at the first I actually did laugh, not at the typical absurdity and bigotry of these individuals, but at the amount of years it had been since anyone had called me that.
but the best surprise for all of us was the great amount of support we got, horns blaring, hands clapping, fists in the air w/triumphant shouts – everyone rolling by saying the same thing: Kerry by a landslide!!!! it was awesome!
after the traffic died down, we all headed to grab a bite to eat and then off to the door-to-door canvassing for move-on.pac
It's kinda overwhelming here in broward county – everything is as spread out as l.a., if not more so. Huge mall after mall, strip mall after strip mall, chain store after chain store – and tiny town either filled with ritzy creeping crud modern condos or tiny town filled with gated communities & palm trees – and the majority of the few bush signs there are in broward county. Then there’s the streets – sometimes the names remain the same & the sequential numbers end at the town line only to begin again at some random number & decreasing if the previous town’s numbers were increasing. Or the street suddenly changes names as you drive – again typical of Atlanta, maybe even the south!Then there’s the stretches of neighborhoods that appear to have been built in the 40’s – tiny, stucco-like maybe 4 room homes in pastel colors, wide grassy lawns & few trees. Here you find the majority of signs overwhelmingly Kerry.We spent the day yesterday, when not stuck in traffic, finding the democrats headquarters & meeting some great folks; connecting with awesome act folks at their headquarters; & searching the hot spots so we have places to be at today. We attempted to banner at a busy intersection but never made it there because we were stuck in traffic. There are humungous accidents here in the Miami area, just like Atlanta! We were even late for tabled a demo event & got 4 wimmin signed up for the activist training; we've flyered the broadwalk the first nite & a busy strip last nite w/our "undecided? talk to me" poster hanging around our necks & talked w/lots of folks. We missed our bannering corner event last nite because we were stuck in traffic – I don't ever wanna hear re:ca traffic.... It's hard to put energy into nov3 when there's so much organizing to do for nov2 - but we're trying. Gael found out there's a fed bldg in miami and is also planning some kind of event with billionaires for bush. Laurie is here from nyc working w/us – she turns out to be the creator of the fabulous coffin postcards we just happened to pick-up somewhere along our travels and have been handing out to folks. the postcard is a picture of the u.s. soldiers’ coffins w/American flags draped over them and different statements printed over them like ‘mission accomplished?’. on the back of the cards are informative internet sites that are so vital for folks that have no real media. we went to pick laurie up at her hotel this morning & were shocked to see the hotel billboard read: VOTE – 4 more years! we parked, hopped down from the truck & before our feet hit the pavement, an old white man can hobbling over to scold me for attacking the president. I asked him why was he supporting the president? he said because he’s a great president. I asked him to name 3 great things about the prez. he couldn’t. instead he asked me to wait & he’d show me something. he scurried off across the parking lot & disappeared into the hotel. laurie came out, happy to see us as we were to see her. we pointed out the sign to her as we all expressed our horror. laurie had flown in from nyc to ft Lauderdale, rented a car, & arrived at the hotel the previous day. she told us how she had called nyc immediately, sitting in the parking lot for 20 minutes, trying to decide what to do. when she had made the decision to come to florida, she had spent hours and hours trying to figure out not only where to be in florida but where to find a hotel. she thought Emily’s list or act had recommended this one. we were all horrified, including laurie, who had pretty much decided she to stay put for a variety of reasons, including the fact that several more new Yorkers were meeting up at this hotel – all the more reason in my book to find another place. although there is no guarantee that at another hotel their money would be going to support a progressive owner, in this hotel they were positive they were supporting a part of the base of the bush agenda. I believe it is vital to be as informed & aware as possible so we can pick & chose where we spend our resources. we have to consciously spend every single penny if we want change and if we do not want to be part of the problem. laurie agrees but feels stuck.we brainstormed solutions: painting the sign w/”of war, of lies, of poverty” under the 4 more years, not to mention of facism, for trust me, we are in a facist state. A hotel that has "vote - 4 more years" on it'sBillboard - we spent a horrified few hours yesterdayWhen we arrived to pick her up trying to convince herTo move and then coming up w/plans to deal w/this - weEnded up leaving the truck in the front parking lotFor all to see from the busy street - grrrrrr. Yikes!Sounds like my journal.Where oh where shall we be? Peace & love, suzanne

n lovers 0- ufb

undecided voters – go get em’

I understand it is a cheaper republican winning strategy to disenfranchise & block voters than to put the effort into getting out the vote. but I say to you GET OUT THE VOTE. I spent the evening last nite standing in front of publix (that southern grocery store chain) holding a bright pink sign that said in big bold black letters: “UNDECIDED? Talk to Me!!!”
After finding 6 such voters in less than 2 hours, I was able to convince them not just to vote, but to vote for Kerry! the first young man was pushing his toddler daughter in a shopping cart across the parking lot toward the publix entrance, intent on shopping. he was glad to see me, as was his little daughter who allowed us to speak uninterrupted for over 5 minutes. he told me he didn’t know who he should vote for, maybe bush because we’re in the middle of a war; but maybe kerry because he has a plan for health care. this young man was semi-informed but more important, he was interested in hearing facts – which I presented to him. And I told him I think this concept that it is detrimental to change prez’s during this unjustified, totally wrong war was not only misguided thinking but a republican campaign strategy. this was the easy undecided voter.
the next two individuals were more difficult – both were more uninterested than undecided. when I pushed each to figure out how come they were uninterested, they both felt they were overwhelmed by the lying & misinformation and they felt totally uninformed. to their relief, I explained to them I had spent the past 2 years (didn’t want to mention the lifetime) getting & staying informed, researching, talking, figuring things out. I ‘briefly’ outlined what has been happening in our country & why; kerry’s record & the bushes records; a vote for bush is a vote for a war president who has succeeded in making the very few richer and the rest of us a lot poorer, not to mention the death, devastation & destruction in iraq – a vote for kerry is a vote for more peaceful existence in the world and an economy that benefits the rest of us. they both thanked me for giving them reasons to vote for kerry and to not vote for bush! I handed them some fliers and encouraged them to vote early.
another voter I encountered was leaning toward bush – his main reason? kerry flip-flops. I asked him to name me three things kerry’s flip-flopped on. he couldn’t. so I made it easier – name one thing. he still couldn’t. I explained to him that ‘flip-flopping’ was a republican campaign strategy slogan and it is just that. I think it had a huge impact on this voter, actually he said it did. then I talked about the fact that kerry did the ultimate no-no in those primarily boy’s organizations: he challenged his superiors publicly, called them out on the carpet, and became a predominant leader in the anti-war movement – which I think is the basis for the flip-flop campaign.
most people can neither articulate why they are supporting bush, nor can they define kerry’s flip-flops. interesting enuff.
yet another voter, wheel-chair-bound, sporting tubes & bandages and missing a leg, informed me he wasn’t voting because his vote didn’t make any difference. I told him softly I totally understood how he feels, and then I told him a lot more firmly, it just wasn’t true – his vote means so much, to all of us. I told him about starhawk’s wisdom, that when we feel this way, hopeless and depressed, as if we cannot make a difference & our vote doesn’t count, then we are falling under the spell of those in power – for surely they want us to be silent, to feel like we cannot impact their course for ourselves & our nation, not to mention the world. I told him we need to do a counter-spell for him so he knows that his vote counts, to me, to lots of folks.
we talked for about 10 minutes then about the differences between bush & kerry. he’s pretty much a kerry supporter all the way so I could reiterate how much his vote means. we talked about the people who died so he and I could have the right to vote & we had an obligation to the work & memory of these heroes to vote. I hope I convinced this voter to get out and vote. he tried to thank me for doing this work & talking with him. I refused to accept his thanks – I told him his vote is the ONLY thanks I want, his help in defeating bush w/his vote!
the last voter I will tell you about is an elderly white republican womon, approaching with a walker-cane, being assisted w/her groceries by a young white male republican store employee who exclaimed ‘go bush’ as they passed me. I said ‘yeah, go to texas bush!’ she angrily attempted to shake her cane at me, which appeared to be larger than her frail body. I expressed much dismay that she, as a senior, a womon, disabled, and not so wealthy-looking (unspoken observation) was supporting a president who has hurt seniors so much lately. she denied this and went on to say kerry was an ugly man who wanted to rob seniors. I asked her how kerry was robbing seniors – she angrily waved me away again, this time with only her empty hand, & turned her back.
I continued to talk w/other voters as she dealt w/her groceries. I thought that was the end of speaking w/her. after several conversations w/kerry supporters, I turned & saw she was still at the passenger’s side of her car. I asked her again, if she didn’t have a few minutes to talk w/me – this time, again to my surprise, she conceded. we spoke for a long time – time enuff for the sun to drop, the sunset to disappear and for me to be late for the banner-making party – we’re giving bush the pink-slip treatment tomorrow at the stadium, yeah!!! – it turned out, this womon was totally confused – she had decided in may to turn off her tv and not to listen to anyone – but she must be listening to someone, I thought silently, to decide bush is good for seniors, yet kerry is not. our conversation quickly turned to healthcare and social security & we talked about the plans bush has for social security, health care, retirement, drugs & seniors. she expressed her shock when I spoke of bush’s goal of privatizing social security & explained what the new medicare program really means – I whipped out the handout, which she took willingly this time. I asked her if she was aware of the economic state of this nation; I asked her if she was aware of the general world’s view of bush & his war in iraq. she wanted to know if I thought bush really did lie to us. how many times have people asked me this, their eyes guarded, their faces set in disbelief yet tinged with hope. the younger ones sometimes laugh self-consciously when I declare he did; this womon’s face filled with shame when I told her of the gross injustice this president has done not only to the people of iraq but to the people of the united states.
the message is so simple yet so huge: there were no iraqi’s on the planes; there were no weapons of mass destruction; there were no attacks against the u.s. there was the 2nd largest reserve of oil in the country under Iraqi sands; there was a regime in the white house that are oil cartel folks; and there was our self-declared war president bush’s statement when he took office “I intend to finish in Iraq what my father started!”
we then spoke of how much richer the rich have become over the past four years; and how much poorer everyone else has become. we spoke of the numbers of people out of work, out of healthcare, out of education, forced into the military, forced into lower paying jobs if any. we talked of almost everything. then she turned to me, held out her hand, stated she was Geraldine McKinze and she was voting for kerry/Edwards, and demanded I find her cane, which was already sitting in the front seat of her car.
off I rushed to buy material for the banner-making party

we also pounded the streets today – we’ve the move on list – what a FABULOUS organization and what AWESOME volunteers – going door to door to talk w/voters about their intentions. do not be intimidated by knocking on people’s doors – republicans are less mean & ugly when they are alone one-on-one with no audience to witness their posturing! although the list of folks we got are democrats who are newly registered, haven’t voted consistently, or are undecided, you might have to step over a few bush/cheney signs to get to the doorbell.
my first house, a young white womon with a toddler, answered the door. I asked if she was the name on the list – no, that was her sister who’s moved to tampa & needs an absentee ballet! this is not a choice on the move on questionnaire but I make a note! when I asked her if she’s decided who she’s voting for, a question that is on my list, she narrows her eyes, declares kerry, and says well, look at the alternative.
the next few respondents were voting for kerry. then i approached a sprawling 50’s ranch w/no signs out front. I knocked & found the brother of the name on my list – a day for siblings! again, I asked this young white male if he’s decided who to vote for; he actually told me he was undecided! and he was willing to talk w/me! his mom was for kerry and his father was for bush and he himself didn’t know but he was leaning towards bush. I asked him what was it that made him lean towards bush and he said how bush was handling the terrorists. I asked him to name 3 things bush has done well handling terrorists. of course, there is only one thing – the war. I asked him if he realized not one Iraqi was on the planes that attacked us. no, he didn’t know that. I asked him if he realized not one weapon of mass destruction was found in iraq – until we dropped bombs that is. another thing he didn’t realize. I asked him if he realized there was no connection between hussein and osama, in fact they were enemies. he didn’t. I asked him if he truly thought pumped up testosterone macho posturing followed by bombing a tiny, poor country killing over 30,000 people not to mention over 1,100 u.s. soldiers was going to make us safe. he wasn’t so sure. we talked about domestic policies. he liked kerry’s positions on health care, education, jobs but thought he was weak, a girlie man. fuck arnold swartzennegger, that hateful son of a bastard. here was an extremely southern polite young white male taking the time to speak w/a stranger knocking on his mom’s door, a young male who didn’t know there wasn’t an Iraqi 9/11 terrorist to be found but certainly knew sexist bile from the other side of the country – go figure.
I appealed to him to listen to women, his mom first of all, in this election at the very least. I left feeling hopeful…..we’ll see.
I was surprised when the last womon on my list, sitting on her grass weeding, told me she was voting for bush. I was even more surprised when she agreed to talk w/me about her decision. it was a repeat performance – she had no idea there were no iraqi’s on the planes, no weapons of mass destruction found, no reason – other than the 2nd largest oil reserve under Iraqi soil – to attack this nation. she was vaguely aware of bush’s domestic economic policies that have crippled the nation’s poor and middle classes and seemed genuinely distraught when I mentioned unemployment rates, schools closing, poverty rising for 3 years in a row!!! she agreed these were reasons to vote for kerry.
when I asked her if they were reasons enuff to vote for kerry, she gave me that righteous hesitation that smelled like anti-choice. she wouldn’t say it directly so I did. she actually didn’t want to talk about it, so I did. I told her I can’t really understand if someone is anti-abortion on the grounds of protecting life, then didn’t she find it terribly hypocritical to then be bombing and killing over 30,000 iraqi’s? she did nod her head in agreement until I continued with if one really is anti-abortion, then you would support kerry. I told her about how abortion has been on the rise since gwb took office, to the tune of 52,000 more abortions this past year. I told her how abortion rates had been steadily declining over the past 20 years until bush came into office. I told her about the 3 reasons wimmin are now having more abortions: 1) they can’t afford a child; 2) they don’t have health care; and 3) they have boyfriends who don’t have jobs. bush’s domestic policies contribute to the rise in abortion.
I ended w/asking her if she really wanted a man who declares himself to be a “war president”. I told her we, women, children, men, in the u.s., in iraq, in the world, need a peace president. we talked for a good 15 minutes – I was surprised she continued to speak w/me. I profusely thanked her for taking the time to talk – I told her my experience is that republican wimmin usually will not discuss their positions and it made me really glad that she’s been willing to do so. she smiled a little ruefully & announced she was a democrat! I called her by her name & expressed my dismay & hope that she’ll reconsider. then she told me she wasn’t the womon on my list – that was her daughter! okay, time to start all over again!

I returned to jax or j'ville early in the wee hours this morning, slept for a few, took some time to update journals. Then I picked up Cindy Sheehan from her hotel. Cindy is yet another one of our heroes. She is a mother who has suffered the death of her child, which in and of itself, is and has always been an incomprehensible tragedy. My 101 year old grandmother, who lost her daughter many years ago when my mother was only 52, still spoke up until days before her death about how it was utterly wrong & unfathomable it is for a child to preceed her mother in death.
But cindy knows her child was killed because he was a good and honorable man who believed in serving his country so he followed a commander in chief who lied, misled, and totally used him in order to secure riches for this chief & his friends.
Cindy doesn’t like to be called brave: she says it is casey who was brave. He went into the army proud & idealistic; he went to iraq to protect us from non-existent danger; he went into battle unprotected – he was yet one more american soldier without proper armor. Cindy is here in florida, she flew in last nite, to bring her message to us, to do her part in defeating this bush regime, to insure that her son’s death will not go unheeded, and to mourn the loss of her son, a war hero who gave his life for bush’s war.
We spent the afternoon talking, riding, bannering, eating, crying, and laughing together. It was way too short. Cindy agreed to pass for republican & get us tickets to go see bush on saturday. To be 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

This morning, ariel & I met Lauren in the publix parking lot – we’re car-pooling, in this case truck-pooling, to ft myers to protest bush’s appearance there. Ft myers is an hour ride that took us almost 2 hours to arrive. He is appearing on a sprawling college campus, the florida gulf coast university – we find 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 & 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. 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 & her 4 year old son pull in next to us & introduce themselves as fellow activists! 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 officer who takes macho to new heights. This officer directs us to leave the parking area, leave this part of the campus & to go to the student union where there is a protest area set up for us.
I demand to talk to the man in charge – I’m informed the chief is not there. I get his phone number already & call his office. The young person who answers the phone struggles to be polite & 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 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. We inform him that we are going in to see our vice president. He asks for our tickets & we are ready with ‘our friends are meeting us out front w/the tickets.’ he howls & says we’re never gonna get in cause they’ve given out 5 times the number of tickets then they have room for. He points out the incredibly long line of white republicans standing in incredible heat waiting to get into the building – they 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 & reasonable, even almost supportive! Lauren whispers to me that andrea reminds us there’s not enuff of us here yet for some of us to get arrested & out of commission for how ever long.
While I’m still holding on the phone, our officer informs us that he’s just heard from the chief & we can protest on the sidewalk along the sides of the road where the cars are turning into the parking lot – a victory if i’ve ever seen one!!!! We thank him for his efforts & 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 & holding a large ‘another Vietnam war veteran for kerry’ sign. We hoop & holler as we walk towards him. There are 5 adult protestors now & we scan the crowds for the rest of the codepink wimmin. Leslie, the young mother that has joined us, tells us there has to be other protestors – she belongs to a large group that was committed to demonstrating today.
While we’re talking, a tv camera & reporter approach the vet to interview him. He only gets to speak briefly before a very well-dressed white-haired republican woman, probably in her 70’s pops up and begins challenging him & 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 & get to have this woman explain to me ‘what exactly is Christian about bush?’
‘why he prays every day, & he reads his bible’ is what she says, the cameras steadily rolling.
‘okay,’ I say, ‘so he prays & reads his bible & 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 reassures the viewing audience that bush indeed does follow in the steps of jesus, protecting our country & keeping us safe.
‘by bombing innocent women, children & men?’ I ask.
‘an eye for an eye’ she spits out at me.
I attempt to hide my glee as I tell the viewing audience & her ‘and jesus said, you have heard it say, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say 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 try not to yell back ‘jesus said blessed are the peacemakers’.
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. I got to say the only moral and conscous thing for cheney to do is to resign. I got to talk about domestic issues & cheney’s vote against the assault weapons ban that recently was allowed by this administration to lapse.
We all got major news coverage & we were happy.

last day of early voting

Altho we got up early today, we lose a lot of time because our absentee ballots have come in the mail - grrrrr. We have to find a post office, figure out how to fill out our ballots - mine is blackening in the circles, ariel's is punch card as in hanging chads kinda ballot - and then pay $13.95 to guarantee delivery before noon tomorrow, november 2nd!
YIKES! tomorrow is it, the second! All day today I wish again I had four more months to talk to folks - so many people I haven't been able to talk with and these last few weeks, I've only talked mostly w/undecided voters or disenfranchised voters. Those voters that were leaning bush, I had to give up on - too late, too much time, not enuff time.
We finally get to demo headquarters & get a couple of precincts to hit. I drop Ariel off with her list on one street and I head over to the next street. Turning the corner I run smack into ACT - they are covering this neighborhood too. We compare notes - they have the same streets we have. ACT is not allowed to confer w/the democratic party - but they can confer w/me. I call into headquarters & tell them this neighborhood is already being canvassed. We head back in for another precinct.
Finally, we get a precinct that doesn't have ACT or Moveon or ACORN folks hitting the pavement. It is truly amazing how many volunteers and individuals there are here in Florida making sure bush is defeated - they're from all over the country, all ages, races, backgrounds - and all here to defeat bush!!! It is totally unfuckinbelievable!!! ufb!
Our first precinct has about 100 people on the list - at the same address - it turns out to be another elderly living situation - the rectangular buildings, 2 stories with about 8 apartments on each floor, and about 9 or 10 buildings. That's where the similarities end. There is no landscaping, other than grass & what individuals' have placed in front of their doors, at this complex. Paint is peeling off revealing years of colored stucco, stairs are cracked, screen doors are broken, door bells are non-existent. The manager first scowls at us, then looks at our list, points out the deceased names, the ones that are in the hospital, the ones that have moved, tells us no one will want to speak w/us - and we head out.
We find all democrats again, mostly wimmin, mostly African-American. Many need rides, which we call into the office. We decide to just hit up every door, given the deaths & the new comers. We leave sample ballots w/everyone who hasn't yet voted and continue on our way.
The next neighborhood we hit is also heavily democrat. One house has men up on the roof working. They instruct me to the back yard when I ask for Clarence Rewards. An older man is perched on an outdoor chair amidst a jumble of leaves & branches, while piles of debris are scattered thru-out his yard. He is leaning forward, hand resting on a walker, as he watches me approach.
I see he has been hit by the hurricane. I express my concerns - he tells me for 35 years he's lived in this house that had 19 pine trees growing in the front yard. You didn't used to be able to see his front door from the street (which is a major highway really). All 19 trees were snapped off with one wave of wind, a tornado. He points to the roots of the giant cypress to the side of us - a hundred year old tree, gone, smashed into the roof. His house is brick, except for the roof. He talks about how lucky he was the walls are still standing. Only the cypress tree took the roof out, which then let in tons of water, flooding the entire house, so he's lost all the contents inside. He sits in his chair, still in shock as he watches the men rebuilding his roof, surrounded by the remains of his previous life.
But this man has already voted. And he's voted for Kerry. His grandson comes and sits next to him, in the chair Clarence wanted me to take. I ask the grandson if he's voted yet. He looks ashamed as his grandfather bellows "this child didn't even register. We tried to get him to register but you can't tell young people anything these days."
The kid protests he was going to but he got too busy. Clarence & I exchange looks of disappointment & disbelief. I ask him how old he is. 18 years old, last week. I ask him if he's ready to go to war so some president's family & friends can get very rich. He looks mortified. I tell him he has to find at least 5 friends or neighbors who are registered to vote & help them get to the polls.
His grandfather points to the street behind them - you can start there, he instructs his grandson. Surprisingly, he solemnly agrees to do his part.
Ariel & I return to demo headquarters to pick up another precinct. While we are there, we get a call from carmen, another codepink womon, who tells us to head to a precinct across town where there are long lines and only bush supporters waving banners. We rush across town to the polling place, beeping our horn & talking on the megaphone until we get within reach of the poll - you cannot do any political messaging within 50 feet of the doors - the line is so long, it is not an issue. I park the truck in an obvious location so all have to read it before getting into line. Debbie has joined us too, so we spread out w/our banners & signs. A couple of other wimmin are already there too. Traffic is thick & we get to talk with lots of voters. This is a whiter side of town, richer, and more republican. We try to get those angry republicans to stop and talk - no one will, but the democrats are soooooo happy to see us!
While we are there, we get yet another call: jeb bush, georgie's brother & the governor of Florida, is holding a press conference at the republican headquarters down the road. Debbie & Ariel get that megaphone-glint in their eyes as we all wrap up our banners & charge back to the truck. We head out to the press conference, which turns out to be fuckin' awesome! I drive the truck slowly in front of republican headquarters as Debbie and Ariel take turns telling jeb "you can't help your brother out this time, we're watching you" along with other anti-bush, pro-kerry statements. The republicans are raving mad, lounging at the truck as we pass, screaming but even the entire bunch of them are no match for the megaphone queens! On the other side of the street, across four major lanes of traffic, the democrats go wild, screaming & cheering! We pass back and forth many times. No one makes a move to stop us though, not the police, not the governor, not the republican party! It was pretty awesome!
When we're done (the press conference is over), we head to Jacksonville Landing to get a bite to eat & to hunt down more voters. Folks are so happy to see us, we get our drinks paid for!!! We find a couple of people who promise us they will be the first at the polls in the morning!
Everyone else is waiting for us at Fuel Coffee Shop so we head over there, to regroup, do our final rituals for tomorrow, and to enter onto the computer about 600 names on the urgent response network for nov3 - the just=in=case bush tries to steal the election again. I am feeling excited and hopeful - Jacksonville seems to have changed since we first arrived so many eons ago, when we didn't see one Kerry sign, let alone bumper stickers. Now it seems, where ever we go there are Kerry folks and the republicans, still agressive, seem to brood more & send evil eyed glances as often as middle fingers our way! I have a lot of hope, I realize, as I look over the responses to the truck during the last three days - 29 yeahs, 6 fuck yous, and 4 thumbs down - not too bad considering the first time we were here, the yeahs & fuck yous were running almost even!
While we're hanging at Fuel, working on the computers, eating, drinking, making plans for tomorrow, we get handed a flyer about a 4:45 a.m. press conference in front of the supervisor of elections office tomorrow. The other codepink wimmin are talking about being there. I look at the clock - 11:55p.m. - great another 4 hour nite! I negotiate to be there by 5:45 instead. We'll see. Good nite & get so ready - this is it!!! peace & love, sam