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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

Friday, September 18, 2009


You might think it intimidating or unpleasant to go to court, which it certainly is not what I would have chosen to do with my morning today. But I realize, going through the building and the public defenders office, I am getting so much positive recognition, even thanks and admiration, from strangers who I didn't notice but who notice me. I once again think about how much people are missing, people who think it is too difficult or who are not fighting for the end of war.

It could be also disconcerting to have so many people, including officers of the court, to recognize you. Yet today I met people who shared their stories and connected with me on the great and honorable work of ending war.

One such officer tells me proudly, even though he faced and was committed to ending racism, he protested the Viet Nam War. Then he slumps and tells me how 8 years ago his daughters asked for BART fare to go to the city to protest the then threatened war. He gave his daughters the fare but didn't go himself.

He gazes over my head to the fluorescent lights, remembering. He speaks of how the shock of 9/11 cursed through him and became the belief he gratefully embraces that this war too will end in a couple of days.

To this very day - he jabs the cooled air emphatically - to this very day he regrets not going, back then in the beginning. The sad possibility, he feels, that perhaps if he and the many more millions of other Americans who stayed out of the streets that day, would have followed the lead of his daughters and stepped out into the streets way back then in the beginning, with Barbara Lee, then the probability is that we would not be where we are today.

We are both sad with this knowledge.

Another man proudly announces to me that he is a c.o., conscientious objector. His eyes spark, his fire-lit bitter-sweet dark chocolate cheeks glow as he recalls being in snow-laden Wisconsin burning his draft card way back when, '62, '63, or was it '64?

Then he clarifies his c.o. status. He applied and was denied. He was now a student at Yale. The military told him he had to go the next day to Fort something (I forget which Fort and where) in South Carolina maybe. He told the officer he wasn't going and then next thing he knows they're labeling him "crazy" and not fit for the military!

When I leave the building, I overhear one of the security guards telling a group of guards that I'm a war protestor. And I smile proudly.

I WON!!!

I had to go to court this morning as Amy and I were arrested a few months back for "blocking the doorway of a business".

In this case, the "business" was that which is in the business of ensnaring our youth into the violent web of killers and cannon fodder for our empire.

We were told to leave because many new recruits were expected. About 4 young people had already entered the building. And sure enough, four more did come and did enter the building, but not before speaking with us.

Several youth did stay to talk with us after leaving the station. And the police were called and we were cited, a "citizen's arrest" they said.

Today when I went to court, my ticket had been reduced from misdemeanor to infraction - which many (guilty) would be thrilled as infractions do not carry hefty fines nor jail time.

But neither do infractions allow for jury trials nor lawyers - and I want BOTH!

Why were FIVE Berkeley Police Officers sitting in TRAFFIC court for two hours this morning?

Or better yet, why were we, the citizens of Berkeley, PAYING for 5 Berkeley Police Officers to sit in traffic court for 2 hours this morning?

This past spring finally the city wisely ended their policy of paying 5 or 6 police officers to stand guard in front of MRS (marine recruiting station) doors protecting military recruiters - who are getting highly paid (by us) to ensnare our youth into the violent web of cannon fodder for our empire – from a handful of CodePINK women protesting their violent presence in our peace-loving city.

Yet today, five of those same police officers appeared in traffic court with the main honcho of the MRS, the captain, and sat for two hours waiting for what they thought was an infraction case to be heard.

An infraction. Traffic court.

In case we have forgotten as some seem to have forgotten, an infraction is a MINOR violation of the law which carries no jail time or hefty fine but merely a ticket and/or fine if found guilty.

This is a priority for our police in this day of budget crisis and dwindling funds?

And why were the police sitting cozily with the military? The very same military that has NOT stopped training our youth to become killers as we keep our troops in Iraq, escalate troops in Afghanistan, and increase killing in Pakistan?

Why were the police not sitting on the other side, with the citizens of Berkeley?

Maybe these upside down, inside out priorities are but a poor reflection of our larger society, but I would expect and hold Berkeley to higher standards and priorities that reflect our long-standing, elevated core values of peace, sanctuary, equity, love, anti-war we mostly all hold so dear here.