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, May 15, 2006

Pinking out the Pink House

Julia and I work all afternoon hauling the wet things out of the CodePINK truck and sorting out all the stuff that folks just threw on the truck when the downpour started yesterday.

We began spreading out the soaked banners over the front lawn & fence, sorting posters into save & beyond saving piles, wiping down tarps & umbrellas. As we run out of room to spread things out, I glanced up and saw at least 50' of flat, brick-faced wall with uniform windows spaced along 3 floors. Perfect! I get Julia to help & we figure out how to hang the banners from the windows - allowing them to dry and announcing the the neighborhood and the world that CodePINK:Women say ENOUGH! BASTA! have arrived!

We hang the 30 foot "Troops home now" banner from the 3rd floor window! It looks AWESOME! We hang the rest of the banners from each set of windows on every floor and across the front of the house. Our message is out and we are at home!

Several women come by & ask us what we are doing. Suddenly we are no longer in a brick house across from shops, construction, and a busy intersection. We are part of a neighborhood & our neighbors are greeting us, welcoming us into the neighborhood. It is incredible to realize this is just like home - people who care live here. People approach us with such gratitude and relief, it feels like the damn has broken!

The most incredible interaction we had was a woman who came over saying she had seen the banners from the busy road & drove around the block several times until she could find a place to park. She was almost 50 and had been in the service almost 28 years. She said she retired last year after a tour in Iraq. Her energy that first had seemed incredibly calm now seemed flooded with grief - and determination. She said the army tried everything to get her to re-up, to postpone her retirement, including large cash incentives. She said "n e v e r a g a i n" to them.

Tony had not heard of Iraq Veterans against the War, nor had she heard of CodePINK. We invite her, beg her even, to join us tomorrow morning - or any morning. We tell her about sweeping congress & the Mother's Day MONTH proclamation; about the things CodePINK is planning on doing this month. We hope she will participate. Before we parted, she gave us each a big hug and thanked us again for being here.

When everyone returns from wherever they've been, we all have to pose outside in front of the pink house and take a zillion pictures! We are late starting the meeting but everyone is happy & energized! peace, sam

We must feel so tender...

We have decided to read each line of the Mother's Day Proclamation 3 times with three seconds in between each repeated line. We have 3 women who are our readers who are to keep us in unison and reading the same line.

We are practicing at the lunch table in the middle of a huge cafeteria in the Rayburn building - one of the 4 house of representatives office buildings. The menu is really quite varied & everyone seems pleased with the prices - we're thinking the tax payers are subsidizing meals for people with business at congress.

Everyone around us pays attention as we read the proclamation. No one approaches us to make us stop nor calls security to have us removed. We are pleased & fortified. We debate whether we are ready to read the proclamation in the halls. We decide to go out front of the building (a couple of women cannot find us) and try it again.

As we stand out in front, a couple of capitol police approach & ask us for our permit to demonstrate. Toby is furious & tells them we're u.s. citizens & we have the right to demonstrate. I tell him we are standing against the war in Iraq, we are not blocking the sidewalk & there are less than 25 of us so we do not need a permit. He corrects me - we have to be less than 20. I tell him in any case we do have a permit. He calls in & then comes back and reiterates what we already know: don't block the sidewalk or the street or the doorways. I smile & tell him thanks.

Rayburn has GREAT acoustics, even out in front. Half of us stand on the steps, the other half climb up to the balcony that stretches over the doorways & steps below. The reading is amplified greatly and altho we do not have the numbers of people we would like, the ones who hear us respond favorably.

Soon we are ready to go inside & try the action. It is illegal to demonstrate inside the congressional walls, which means inside this building. We have our cell phones plastered to our heads so we can pretend we are speaking into the phone - and therefore, not demonstrating. I can feel the nervousness under the determination and bravery of these women. Most of the women here have NEVER demonstrated other than marches, and certainly most have not broken rules on purpose.

We go through security once again. We have to take off all our buttons, take our cell phones, keys, change out of our pockets; lay our hot pink umbrellas, backpacks, pocket books on the conveyer belts & stride through the low doses of radiation without making the lights & bell go off. At the end, we have to pick up all our belongs, shoving each back into the proper pocket, reattaching our codepink pins and move nonchalantly up the stairs.

One of our group is detained. We move slowly across the floor, waiting for her to be released & catch up. Some women are talking about doing the action in front of their congressperson’s office; some are wanting to go back to the cafeteria to do it; others want to find a hallway with more people.

Julia catches up finally – she wasn’t detained but instead she was talking with the guard about the make-up of the congress: the number of representatives, senators.

We are all congregated in one area. I walk toward another hallway so we can spread out a little but our readers have begun. I grab my cellphone & begin reading. Our voices sound as lovely & strong as they did outside. Julia Ward Howe’s words “rise then women rise” bounce off the walls. People stop in their tracks, startled.

Marie has cut off from the group also. We continue reading in unison “we women of one nation must feel so tender toward women of other nations that we must not allow our sons to injure their sons.”

A police officer walks towards me & I make sure she sees my cell phone as I concentrate on talking. She keeps walking. The police have arrived in the other hall. Marie & I can no longer hear our comrades speaking. The officer that passed me is motioning for Marie to keep her voice down. Marie smiles sweetly as she continues to read & walk in a circle. I keep walking forward reading in unison with Marie.

The officer disappears around the corner toward the rest of the women. I decide to follow. When I round the corner, the hall is empty of anyone, including pink! At first I fear they’ve been taken somewhere – then I peer down the stairs & across the security I see a flash of hot pink! Marie & I head out.

We regroup, pleased & proud that we got kicked out of Rayburn on our first day. We talk a little about the proclamation, decide to shorten it & try it again. We march back to the Library of Congress where two of our women are watching the rest of our banners & signs that we couldn’t take into the building with us. We protest all along the way & when we get to the Library, we stand out front reading the proclamation & handing out copies to passers-bye.

The number & diversity of the crowd astounds us – from youth groups to military to tourists, they all pass & most take our flyer & thank us profusely for being here.

We head back to Hillary’s House for dinner & the house meeting at 8:00p.m.

We have begun...

Last night, after participating in the awesome 24-hour vigil that culminated in a huge downpour minutes after the microphones were turned off, the pictures taken, and women lined up to do civil disobedience, the Mother’s Day MONTH women met at Hillary’s house.

We met each other, discussed our goals for the next few days, and practiced the Mother’s Day Proclamation action we’re doing today at Congress.

For those women who couldn’t make it last nite, we met again this a.m. at 7:00!

We have decided to begin our daily MDM actions with a hot pink promenade from Hillary’s house to the Capitol Buildings. This morning we are planning on marching all the way around the Capitol Building.

Taking off from the house, decked in our hottest pink, armed with anti-war signs (liberated from the AFSC event that ended yesterday) & lovely pink brooms, banners, and umbrellas, we spread out single file & march down Pennsylvania Ave, feeling quite herstoric – being on this Ave in this way at this time. Neighbors step out their homes, their jobs, the many little stores that still line the street, and greet us with enthusiasm & hopefulness. Some join in for a few steps; some sign up to join in later.

Suddenly uniformed buff men – in green shorts & t-shirts, shaved heads – jog by us. We call after them: “we don’t want you to kill anyone for us” and “resist, reconnect with your humanity” and “it’s not too late – call the gi rights hotline”. These are marines or army probably training to go to Iraq. We feel we’re in the right place at the right time – a great way to begin the march!

We continue down Pennsylvania Ave and connect up with more women at the empty reflecting pool on the capitol grounds. The grounds are huge – the capitol building is where congress meets; then there are 4 large buildings on one side that house representatives’ offices; on the opposite side are several buildings that house senators’ offices.

The steps of the Capitol (all 4 sides) are mostly inaccessible to us – we are horrified by the scant access we u.s. citizens have. A lot of the inaccessibility is caused by construction that is going on. Today even more of the Capitol is blocked off by police barricades.

We ask the multitude of officers what is going on? A codepink member who left early to catch a plane, tells us later she was scared shitless & almost turned back to join us when she saw all the motorcycle cops racing down the street toward the Capitol. Her first thought was what the hell had we done to attract so many police!

We couldn't take credit for this one.Today is the day police officers from around the country have come to D.C. to commemorate officers killed in the line of duty. We found out that around 50 officers have died this year – about half of them killed in traffic accidents on the way to the scene – and Bush might be speaking at the service! We try to be respectful and at the same time to get our message across – NO MORE KILLING, NO MORE DEATHS!

We marched mostly silently past them. Some of them smile & flash the peace sign. Most seem grim & disapproving (thank goodness we don't need their approval). One says to me "You should have picked another time to protest." I said to him "I am sorry for your loss" then add: "the time is ALWAYS right to do what is right" MLK. And then I say "war & death, killing, is very inconvenient - more for Iraqis than us.

By the time we have marched around the entire capitol building, someone calls for a lunch break. I have gone along with the crowd - it is very hard to get 20-some women to agree to do anything, but we're doing it!