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

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New York State Police and CodePINK!

Word is out re:CodePINK to the New York State Police!

So once again the New York state police pull me over.

Earlier this afternoon, the 30 something year old white male who first pulls me over, demands as he approaches my truck “who are you working for?”

I look at him in puzzlement. Does he want me to say some terrorist organization or maybe the communist party?

I ask for clarification with a "What do you mean? I'm working to end war". He says “who is paying you to drive this truck?” Hmmmm – I wish!

I tell him no one. I am an activist. I drive my truck around the country attempting to inspire everyday people like him to get involved to end war.

He starts shuffling from foot to foot as I smile brightly and ask if he’s heard of CodePINK. He unbelievably says no so I begin to give the spiel. His eyes glaze as he averts them to stare pointedly at my tires. I review the tread ware in my head – it is okay, not ticketable I hope, but not great.

I cut the CodePINK spiel & tell him I’m late for a demonstration in an attempt to redirect his attention and to help me get back on the road.

He asks me where is the demonstration? I say Glen Falls, which he corrects me with a nod, “Glens Falls”. I tell him it is up to all of us to end war and ask if he’d like to come to the demonstration, after all it is HIS congresswoman who voted to continue war.

He hurriedly gives me back my license & registration without even running it! Off I went.

Tonite it is cool, rainy, dark & I’m on my way to Cleveland Ohio, where I hope to have a protest at Senator Brown’s office. The patrol car has been following me for awhile when he pulls out and races past as if going somewhere. A few feet past the truck he suddenly brakes, then rides along side me for a minute before putting on his lights & pulling me over.

I ask him why he stopped me. He is another 30 something while male. He grunts and asks me for my license and registration. I repeat, I’d like to know why he has stopped me because I know I wasn’t speeding, my lights are on, my seat belt attached. I add, if I do show you my id’s, which I’m happy to do when I know he’s stopped me for a legitimate reason and not because he is disturbed by my exercising my free speech, it will be without my consent.

As I continue talking, he starts shifting from foot to foot. He seems nervous. It has just thunder stormed a brief but huge deluge of warm drops – another reason I know I wasn’t speeding because I’d slowed for the storm.

I ask him if he’s heard of CodePINK, and begin my cp spiel. He is silent, staring at me, and seems unable to go forward. My phone rings & I answer with stating I’m being detained by the New York State police on I90 about 75 mile west of Albany and to hold the line while I find out why.

He kicks into gear, tells my like a (big) brother, “drive safely ma’am, the pavement’s wet and visibility is limited” as he returns to his patrol car.

Awesome Protest: Congresswoman Gillibrand's office Saratoga Springs!

Saratoga Springs is another obvious tourist town – I wonder if most folks zip up here from the city. Large groups of mostly white tourists, their shiny new barbie doll clothes, perfectly manicured bodies, straight & fluffy hair, stroll from boutique to ethnic shops to expensive restaurants.

Gillibrand’s office here is on the main drag. I find parking and the organic coffee shop. Several young womyn find me. We talk, they are so happy to see me, take my picture. I give them flyers & ask them to join us at their congresswoman’s office in 30 minutes. They smile glittery and we both know they are not going to show up.

I approach her office to see a whole line of hot pink womyn, a couple of adorable children, and 3 or 4 white men already standing in front of her office holding signs. We greet each other and I pull out a few banners.

The press, photographer only, is there snapping pictures, as a group of about 10 young, very slender girls all with their hair tied back, gather around the truck in twos & threes to take pictures of each other & the truck.

People passing are happy to see us. Our mood is hopeful and expectant. Almost 20 people have showed up several with less than 8 hours notice, to hold our Congressperson accountable.

About 6 womyn and one fellow opt to go inside. The same staff, Regional Director, has come to this office to talk with us. Again, he spends almost an hour, talking and listening.

He explains to everyone the things he has already told me earlier. Womyn react the same way, several laden with such emotion it is hard to speak. These are some of the womyn who did the ground work getting Kirsten elected. These are some of the womyn most betrayed.

Every womyn speaks clearly and passionately. The staffer (I forget his name of course) convinces us that Kirsten is really torn about this vote, this ‘issue’, and she REALLY wants the troops home.

We convince him that we cannot believe Kirsten unless she VOTES to reflect her words. He lets us in on a press release that is coming out tomorrow: she is co-sponsoring a bill to begin bringing our troops home in 120 days and to have them home by April 1.

Several womyn point out that while this is a step in the right direction, this bill would not have been necessary if she hadn’t voted to continue the occupation in the first place.

It is like she has given the boys the gun, saying she really doesn’t want them to use it, but now puts forth a bill that says they can only use it until April 1.

He tries to say Congress has to come up with a plan for withdrawal. We cut that short quickly, asking what plan did Congress come up with to invade? Why would Congress haave to come up with a military plan? That is up to the military.

Congress has to de-fund war; it is up to the military to figure out how to end it, as they figured out how to start it.

We left, once again feeling successful! We felt heard, we had made brilliant points, everyone spoke eloquently and from the heart sticking to the subject, the young white man scribbling notes (with his boss every once in awhile checking to make sure he was getting all this down), and this pleasant, open staffer promising to deliver all our points to Kirsten – that this was the number one concern of hers.

We left promising we were coming back. This staff person has also promised to set up an appointment for us to speak directly with Kirsten as soon as possible.

Awesome Protest: Congresswoman Gillibrand's office!

Upstate New York continues to be so gorgeous and the towns, at least the two I stop in to do Peace-Ins, are both loverly. Old brick and wood buildings, lots of evidence of money here – no peeling paint, boarded up store-fronts, disenfranchised youth or homeless hanging about.

Glens Falls I am so late for! The 3 ½ hours I rationed for the drive should have been enough but between being filled by the beautiful scenery while traversing the steep and windy hilly wooded 2-laned roads, the traffic sitting for 20 minutes as the on-coming cars pass in our lane, and then the cop holding me up pushing me really over the time! I miss the vigil totally and I’m at least 5 minutes late for talking with staff.

I arrive breathless and hurried on the third floor, asking the woman at the desk if the protestors are speaking with staff yet. She checks and I get ushered into a small office filled with a large desk and two comfortable, padded wooden arm chairs. The Regional Director, a middle-aged white male, joins me in front of the desk; a young, diminutive in stature, woman who appears white also, sits behind the desk taking notes.

I am greeted like an old friend, although a somewhat dotty old friend because the first thing he goes on about is how complicated and complex the issues are, so totally hard for someone as myself and most constituents to understand, (war and weapons and death and destruction and rape and torture – my words), as he looks appropriately troubled and patronizing at the same time.

I tell him we all understand too well – I don’t add it is Congress, and Gillibrand, that seem to have the difficulty understanding.

He reassures me over and over that Kirsten truly wants our troops to come home. He points out that she has voted correctly many times and even was a co-signer on McGovern’s bill.

I feel the anguish of the womyn who have told me how proud they were to campaign for Kirsten, how they couldn’t believe she had won, and how much faith and hope they placed in her. And then she placed this horrific vote, the one that counted.

Their distress fills me as I relate this to her staff. I try to convey how much hope we had, and love, and loyalty we felt, until this last vote, the one that counted more than any other.

He reiterates that Kirsten WANTS to bring the troops home; she feels the war is wrong, we should have never gone in there and we need to get out as quickly as possible. But as long as our troops are there, she will vote to fund them.

I point out as calmly as I can that first of all, when she says she wants the troops to come home – and then she approves the funding to keep them there, one erases the other. i.e. her actions erase her words.

I ask him to tell Kirsten exactly how that translates to us: we hear that she has bought the Republican propaganda that “supporting our troops” means “continuing war & occupation of Iraq”.

I urge him to convey to Kirsten our expectation that she is stronger, smarter, more capable of seeing through Republican lies – and certainly we do not expect her to align herself with war mongers.

“Supporting our troops” means one thing: funding their immediate and safe withdrawal from Iraq and to HOME.

He decides to take me into his confidence. He tells me the new commander asked for time to figure out the status of things in Iraq, what needs to happen. He leans conspiratorially toward me, confident I’d understand new job, new huge responsibilities, treading softly, scoping out the new territory.

I tell him they must have hired an idiot then & he has no business in the job. Other military personnel, not to mention the UN, have studied ad nauseum the current horrific tragedy occurring in Iraq – even I know what is happening.

That line of justification not holding water, this very nice, open, friendly fellow then tries to explain how Kirsten is like an ambassador (my word) to the moderate and middle of the road folks.

I don’t mention that when extremists and fascists are in power, notice where ‘moderate’ lands.

These moderates are asking for one more chance, one more military surge, one more opportunity to flatten the Iraq people and their homes, their land, their infrastructure (my words).

Kirsten agreed to give them the chance by voting with them. Now they are saying, we gave the military solution one more chance & it didn’t work. They can see for themselves the dead bodies, the destroyed families, the almost 200 US soldiers that have been killed not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – so that these mostly white, rich men can figure out what we all know – military action will not work.

Except it IS working for what those in power really want: control over the oil resources of Iraq.

The young womon behind the desk stands to shake my hand and thank me profusely for taking the time to come visit. She gestures at her 2 pages of notes and assures me Kirsten will hear everything I’ve had to say.

As I walk out, the rest of the staff looks expectantly at me. I’m hoping they’ve heard the whole conversation, as I believe it went really well. They spent close to an hour with me!

Off to Saratoga Springs!

Beautiful CP'ers & Western Mass

Driving out of Boston this a.m. with the dawn, I head down beautiful Route 2 into western Mass to meet with two awesome womyn & local cp coordinators, Priscilla and Tish. I'm so pleased to note that many fellow drivers pass honking, waving, smiling, snapping pictures, giving me the peace symbol out windows and thru sun roofs!

Priscilla and Tish have in their little town, an organic, fair trade coffee shop w/free wireless in the middle of what seems to be a sparsely populated, country scene of gorgeous, soft, rounded ‘mountains’ covered with rounded green trees and lots of lakes & rivers.

The dropped ceiling of this coffeehouse has ceiling panels that have been painted and decorated by community members. We sit under the CodePINK panel: a beautiful hot pink panel of fierce, active womyn protesting war and standing up for peace! Tish intends to place the panel in the CodePINK Hall of Fame 50 years from now after the coffeeshop closes!

We meet for over an hour, connecting, sharing organizing and kick-ass protesting stories, inspiring each other with our determination to end war now. They urge me to come back for the August 25th Kennebunkport action when Bush is ‘vacationing’; and I urge them to come to D.C. for the Women Hold our Ground for Peace Sept 11th – 21st action.

Lots of folks in this tiny town stop to look at the truck & take pictures. I hand out info and talk with several young white womyn – this town appears to be predominantly white – who are concerned about their friends who are in danger of being recruited.

And I’m off to find bio-diesel before heading on to Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls New York, which is right over the Mass/NY border. Congresswoman Gillibrand is the ONLY democrat legislator in the state that voted to fund war - and we are holding vigils in front of her offices and a peace-in in her offices at both little towns.

I just put out the alert last nite, after speaking with a couple of local womyn, and I have my fingers crossed!!! We’ll see how many show after a less than 20 hour notice. Probably most people didn’t get the info until this morning!