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

Friday, November 24, 2006

My son is fighting for your freedom to stand here -

so why the hell are you standing here?

This is the mentality of some mothers and fathers who send their children to war, or those folks who send other people's children to fight war.

I am forced to shout at their rapidly receeding backs: "NO, your son is NOT killing anyone for my rights. I choose NO RIGHTS rather than have someone else killing another human being - especially women & children - for my rights. I REFUSE to allow anyone to kill another human being, for my rights. I will claim and protect my own rights."

For what is my right to be ‘free’ if it has cost the life of another human being?

Besides, don't you think a person should be asked before someone is about to commit such a heinous, unforgivable crime against humans and especially in her name? It is such a mentality – kill for freedom – created & steeped in patriarchal misogyny, and so embedded in modern psyche not to mention the water, air & food of our society, that it is rarely questioned.

Maybe this attitude that I do NOT want anyone to kill another for my freedom, maybe this attitude is born of my being American: maybe if I was in the concentration camps in Germany, or the killing fields of the Sudan, maybe I would say kill anyone that would give me my freedom. Maybe if I was being held captive & my daughter was being tortured, I’d beg for someone to kill my captors & my daughter’s tormentors.

I hope I would have a deeper appreciation of my soul, a higher knowledge, a more compassionate bearing that would differentiate me from those other humans who are willing and able to take human life.

I would hope I would reach the places women who have been the survivors of such unfathomable violence and who have talked about becoming a better human being not more killing, more hurt, more violence.

I remember the story of an early Queen, who was being forced into slavery by a king – and whose 5 year old daughter was being used to force the queen into slavery. The daughter threw herself down the stairs, breaking her neck & killing herself. And the queen, bitter and so terribly hurt, said she would rather her daughter dead than to live knowing many had died trying to keep her from harm.

I recently heard of a 75 year old woman who survived the destruction of her village and the death of every other member of her family during the Vietnam war – her family and her village. Not one other member survived the U.S. attack.

She told a U.S. soldier, who recently returned to the site of these heinous crimes, that she wished for all U.S. soldiers who were involved in this war to return to her. She wanted to look them in the eye and tell them she forgave them.

That is the human being I want to be. That is the freedom I want that no soldier, no soldier can kill another human for.

Soldiers are NOT fighting for my freedom – they never have been. Again, it is one of those sentences that is only half said: they are fighting for freedom, yes, but the freedom to exploit another’s resources. Period. Whatever ideology it is encased in, it is about resources and certain men taking more than their share.

That is what our soldiers are fighting for: the freedom to plunder.

No buying continues - to be continued

A young man, gay, brown, employee from the mall, approaches me with “why are you all in D.C.? That’s where you should be demonstrating”. I explain to him we are in D.C. demonstrating AND we are here too. We live here, we are all responsible, and it is not only those in D.C. who will end war, but it is up to us.

He goes from that D.C. to well, then we should go to City Hall & the Federal Building.

I want to tell him to organize his own damn protest at City Hall and/or the Fed Building.

But instead I tell him, we’ve been there too – but they’re not open today; they’re not buying or selling today – this mall is.

He thinks it’s unfair – the one day that retailers get to figure out if they are going to go from operating in the red to operating in the black – thus Black Friday – and we’re trying to fuck it up. Yes we are.

I ask him if it’s fair that soldiers are not able to shop today, that Iraqis shops are closed down, that Iraqis went from full employment pre-US invasion to 70% unemployment since the invasion?

Here comes the Sergeant

I return from parking several blocks away – I don’t want to give this officer reason to pursue my truck.

I see more officers have arrived, almost outnumbering demonstrators – I HATE that. When will the police not outnumber us but more importantly, when will they rush to a demonstration with the intent of protecting our constitutional rights to practice democracy? And not with the intention of silencing us?

An officer is speaking with one of the wimmin, who turns to point me out with obvious relief to the officer.

I smile at him, noting his rank, and immediately mention his officer who needs training – the one that thinks my 6 wheels don’t constitute the 6 wheels pictured on the sign. He agrees to look into it.

Then he begins: we really shouldn’t be there. It will become very busy. Why don’t we go somewhere else.

When I assure him we are here to stay – our banners are out by now, both of the hot pink “No Buying while Soldiers are Dying” as are the intense photos of dead and dying Iraqi children displayed in the midst of the WITS shoes – he concedes we have the right to be there but not the shoes.

I tell him the shoes are an integral part of our demonstration. He doesn’t want them here. I ask him to look carefully at the shoes & I tell him this is the 33rd time in the past 3 weeks we have set this WITS action up around the state of California. I ask him if he knows this is part of a national action.

I reiterate we’ve set this up 33 times and have never been forced to remove the shoes. I look him in his pleasant, smiling face and tell him I sure hope I haven’t come to my home town to have my constitutional rights blocked by the San Francisco police.

He pauses, then passes the buck to his lieutenant, motioning to one of the many police cars now illegally parked along the curbs, saying he’s the one who wants them moved.

Again, I tell him they are part of our action. He says they/we are a hazard to the public. I say we’ve already compromised and moved them from in front of the buildings. He says when more people arrive, they will trip over them. I point out that most of the shoes are surrounding the trees. I concede the ones in the pathways between the trees we will move. It is better that the shoes are around the trees anyway – it allows us to place the Real Face of War photos against a tree trunk in the midst of the shoes.

This configuration is very powerful.

Again, he motions to the dark police car & says he’ll check with his lieutenant if that is a good compromise (my word).

He tells me the lieutenant is allowing us to be there but he warns me that the Department of Public Works will be there to pick up abandoned property on the sidewalk.

Again, I allow some of my exasperation to fill my words. “You know these shoes are not abandoned but are part of our protest.” I protest to his friendly smiling face.

I have to thank our first tenant at CodePINK to make me realize that smiling, friendly faces don’t necessarily mean jack shit. It’s amazing what some people think they can say with a beatific smile.

I had to smile as beautifully and ask “do you think that is legal, for the Department of Public Works to confiscate the tools of our action?”

He wants to leave as badly as I want to return to the action. Later he finds me to tell me the lieutenant has allowed us to stay – with the shoes and all – and that he spoke with their legal department and they are allowing us the shoes; i.e. dpw will not be confiscating anything from us that day!

Oh the police….

It’s the day after tanksgiving: wake up and smell the stench of war! to be continued

We’ve had our day to stuff ourselves; now it’s our day to ‘shop till we drop’.

We are filled with righteous indignation standing on Market St, a brief but brilliant sunrise blanketing our backs, as we set out tiny shoes, fancy sequined shoes, sandals, mary janes, heels, fancy dress shoes, discarded and mildewed shoes, with small cardboard tags flapping in the frigid morning air.

Mostly women & children rush past us – well dressed, ‘nicely’ dressed, bright colors, suits, skirts, heels clicking, makeup, hair perfect, clutching shopping bags & the occasional child, more often a teenager and her friends – well fed, unconcerned, focused.

No one in this crowd appears to have the horrors of war on their mind; no one worries about a bomb going off, a child wounded, a mortar soaring.

We have begun placing the shoes along the building’s edge, spacing them about 3 feet apart as usual. We are able to set out shoes on either side of the entrance to the mall before the security ascends upon us, demanding we move the shoes immediately. I am at the truck unloading so I miss the initial interaction but see the wimmin re-positioning the shoes onto the street side of the sidewalk.

I am parked in the 30 minute loading zone for trucks with 6 wheels or more on Market St downtown SF. I have asked the security where the public sidewalk begins and the private bricks end. They do not know.

I have placed shoes in front of what looks like a watch store. I notice 4 men, either white or of middle-eastern dissent, dressed in suits that I imagine costs thousands of dollars – not that I’d recognize such suits by looks but rather by how these men move in these suits – angrily kicking the shoes from in front of the store onto the garbage can across 10 feet of brick sidewalk.

I am astounded. I confront them, asking them what they are doing? I tell them this is an action of shoes representing killed Iraqis and to show some respect. Only one will look me in the eye. Another continues to kick the shows in unwarranted rage. “We sell rolex and (some French sounding word) watches here. How DARE you place this garbage out here – how are we going to sell anything?”

Hmmmm. My very desire, to limit their selling. Could it possibly be this simple, a handful of dirty shoes with pale cardboard tags hanging limply from laces?

I tell him again, I will move the shoes. He needs to stop. He does. They all stomp off thru the glass doors – except the one without the suit jacket, the one who has looked at me.

“Why don’t you go to City Hall or the Federal Building?” he demands. We don’t want you here, you belong over there by the garbage with those shoes he reeks silently.

I smile sweetly – “not to worry, we’re holding everyone accountable, even you.”

He storms into the glass doors, coming back out, going back in – until he is sure every shoe dirtying his sidewalk has been removed.
While I have been moving and setting up shoes, the mall security has called in the SF police. The first officer to arrive is a middle-aged man who appears to be asian, maybe Phillipina. He doesn’t say much after he tries to get us to leave – ha!

He reiterates we are not allowed to set shoes up by the building – he does not know where public property begins. I ask him to find out.

He tells us that the shoes will be removed by the Department of Public Works, who is coming thru to clean the sidewalks in less than an hour.

I smile at him and continue setting up.

The first police officer to arrive in a vehicle pulls up onto the curb behind my truck, which is now parked in the 30 minute zone. He appears to be ordering the womon standing closest to the truck to move it. She slides a meaningful look in my direction. We are not yet done unloading – almost but not quite.

I approach the officer, making a show of pulling out my cell phone & checking the time. “you’re on the job” I try to joke with him – “I still have 3 minutes left on my 30 minutes” I continue.

He is furious, a middle-aged white male truck driver cop. He wants me to move my truck immediately. He tells me I’m parked illegally.

I try to encourage him to come read the sign – a job that appears too much for him. He sputters my truck cannot park there & he’s going to issue me a ticket unless I move it immediately.

Again, I point out the sign, which says 30 minute parking for trucks with at least 6 wheels. My truck has 6 wheels. He tries to tell me they don’t mean 6 wheels like I have, they mean six wheels behind each other – he searches for the word ‘axels’ which I don’t supply for him. I’m flabbergasted.

I tell him this is not the first time I’ve parked in such zones in San Francisco. I am legally parked. I tell him he needs to check the rules. He blusters he knows the rules & he’s going to write me a citation. I tell him he’s wrong, I have the right to park here.

I walk away, keeping an eye on him, find the other wimmin to tell them I am going to find a park for the truck, not because I’m not legally parked but because the time limit is more than over.