CNN & InterPress Service & OpEdnews.com & El Diario – 2006-10-03 23:11:07
Peaceful Iraq War Protests Prompt 71 Arrests
Lisa Goddard / CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Two Presbyterian ministers were among 71 people arrested during a series of peaceful protests against the Iraq war Tuesday, said a spokeswoman for a group participating in the protests.
Demonstrators held sit-ins, prayer services and sing-alongs at four locations in the Capitol complex, including the central atrium of the Senate Hart Office Building. The demonstrations were reminiscent of the Vietnam era, with protesters strumming guitars, singing peace songs, holding flowers and wearing hats made of balloons.
Senate staffers watched the demonstrators from their offices. Protesters said that several workers gave them a thumbs-up or other signs of approval. “We are trying to protest a lack of civil liberties and to try and end a war culture,” said protester Alex Bryan of New York.
Thirty-three of those arrested were charged with unlawful conduct inside the Hart Building, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the Capitol Police. Thirty-eight more demonstrators were arrested at separate protests near the Capitol, she said. Of those, 23 were charged with crossing a police line and 15 were charged with demonstrating without a permit. All of those arrested were cooperative with police, Schneider said.
The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, which has organized dozens of anti-war protests around the country, coordinated Tuesday’s effort, which included several religious and secular groups.
Among those arrested during the demonstrations were two Presbyterian ministers, a Catholic activist and a member of a Quaker group, said Jennifer Kuiper, spokeswoman for The Declaration of Peace, one of the groups participating in the protests.
Both groups apparently expected participants to be arrested. On a notice posted at The Declaration of Peace Web site, the protests are described as an “interfaith religious procession around the Capitol, followed by peace presence and nonviolent resistance, including risking arrest at the US Senate.”
The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Web site adds, “Those willing to engage in nonviolent acts of civil resistance against the war and occupation are encouraged to join us. We also enthusiastically call upon those who cannot risk arrest, but who are willing to support those who do.”
Despite a rising tide of war opposition, the protesters said they represent no party or political movement. Baptist minister Jamie Washam of Wisconsin, who led an interfaith service during the protests, said she is adamantly opposed to the war. “My congregation wants peace,” she said. “And I think it’s an offense to
Tuesday’s events in Washington were part of 375 protests and other activities being held around the country this week in opposition to the war, according to The Declaration of Peace.
There were hundreds of arrests in a protest organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance a year ago. On September 26, 2005, 371 people were arrested during the “Resist and Remember” protest in Washington, one of the organization’s founders, Gordon Clark, wrote in an online article.
Of those, 104 were arrested at the White House for refusing to leave after being denied an audience with President Bush, Clark wrote.
Hundreds Arrested In Week Of Anti-War Actions
Haider Rizvi / InterPress Service
(September 28, 2006) — Demonstrations, marches, rallies, vigils and prayer meetings continue to take place in dozens of cities across the United States this week as part of a nationwide campaign aiming to force the administration of President George W. Bush and Congress to end the US occupation of Iraq.
Since last Thursday, when more than 500 anti-war groups and religious organisations signed on to the “Declaration of Peace”, some 250 activists have been arrested in various cities for taking part in nonviolent actions.
Organisers conducted more than 375 actions of civil disobedience and protest in all parts of the country, including Lincoln, Nebraska; Houston, Texas; Des Moines, Idaho; Little Rock, Arkansas; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Fayetteville, North Carolina — which is home to Fort Bragg, the largest US army installation in the world.
Though the campaign is heavily dominated by faith-based groups, many lawmakers, former military veterans, women’s groups and immigrant organisations are also actively participating in the ongoing protests, which were scheduled to wind down Thursday.
The first arrests took place in Washington last week when activists tried to deliver copies of the declaration to officials in the George W. Bush administration as part of their pledge to get involved in actions of civil disobedience.
Other actions that involved arrests were organised at the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as at Congressional offices, military bases and military recruitment centres.
“As citizens and people of faith, we must be our country’s conscience,” said Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, one of 34 activists arrested for taking part in the White House action.
As part of the campaign, many activists are staging sit-ins outside the residences of their elected representatives who have not voiced opposition to the Bush policy on the war in Iraq.
“We are spending billions of dollars a week on the occupation of Iraq. This money can be spent on health and education,” said Molly Nolan, a 62-year-old activist who joined others in a protest outside the home of New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. “New Yorkers need schools and jobs, not this endless war,” the crowd shouted in front of Schumer’s house.
“Along with other politicians, you did not speak out,” said Carolyn Eisenberg, cofounder of a group called Brooklyn Parents for Peace, while directly addressing the senator. “We call upon you to show courage, to stand for principle.” Like Schumer, many Democratic lawmakers have kept their distance from the anti-war movement, but some have publicly denounced the Bush policy on Iraq.
Signers of the peace declaration have said if their demands are not met by the administration and the Congress towards the end of this phase of civil disobedience, they will organise another round of nonviolent actions beyond September.
According to the latest CNN poll conducted Sep. 22-24, 59 percent of respondents oppose the Iraq war, while 33 percent say things are going “very badly” for US forces in the country.
A GI Mother’s Guide to Civil Disobedience
Elaine Brower / opednews.com
(September 25, 2006) — While my son is fighting for his life in Fallujah, under some false pretense that we are “defending democracy” or “killing terrorists”, I decided to take up the fight at home.
Very few here are left defending our Constitutional rights. Those who are trying are getting exhausted. We have a march after a rally and, then, march again.
Five years later, the war gets worse and the Middle East is on fire. There is extreme rendition, Hurricane Katrina “survivors”, spying on US citizens in the name of preserving our freedoms, domestic economic failures and disasters, higher gas prices, and the global cowboy foreign policies that we have to listen to and witness on a daily basis.
Well, being a true patriot who flies the American Flag and the Marine Corps Flag outside her home in suburban Staten Island, New York, I decided to fight against the rapid whittling down of our rights to free speech.
I made plans to get arrested at the United Nations when the liars and crime bosses were visiting. I’m talking about those from our own Government.
The planning started a few weeks before, and it was done quietly but with great determination. I spoke to only those I knew felt the same hopeless feelings I had. Too many issues to just have a rally and go home. When the world was visiting New York City, we would strike. And so we did.
Sixteen determined citizens from all walks of life, all ages and backgrounds, decided to perform an act of non-violent civil disobedience in front of the United Nations on September 19th when the General Assembly was meeting to decide the fate of the world.
It was the scariest thing I had ever undertaken in my life, including my 3 marriages. Being married to a retired police lieutenant, and having 2 sons who are NYPD officers, I asked myself what in the world was I doing.
But seeing the smirk on the face of George Bush when he visited the site of Ground Zero and using it as his backdrop for a photo op once again, I decided I was doing the right thing.
If he could stand there and humiliate me and this Country, I could walk into the fires of hell to stop him.
The morning of the event came and I had gone sleepless the night before. I showed up at our meeting location and all I could see was my heart pumping right out of my shirt. I kept telling myself “You can’t do this, you can’t do this!”
But then I looked at my son’s picture which I carry with me, and I thought of all those funerals I had attended over the course of his deployment, the sadness in those mothers’ eyes and the questions they had as to why this happened, and I grew calm.
I was no longer afraid of the big bad wolves surrounding the UN in their black suits and earpieces, or the hundreds and hundreds of uniformed officers from every single police unit that could possibly incur overtime on our tax dollars.
I marched down to the gate on 1st Avenue and 44th Street and walked right between the police gate and a police van. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air, picture of my son in hand, and landed on my back about 10 feet from the gate I was trying to get through.
From my viewpoint, I could see a huge melee breaking out.
My friends had succeeded in walking through the barricade. I could see camera crews, uniforms, my friends, black suits, visitors, and onlookers just running into the crowd. There I was lying on the street with people jumping over as I thought, “I can run away and no one will ever know!”
But I couldn’t. My friends, who I have the utmost respect for, were being overwhelmed and abused by the law enforcement types that were there.
Cameras were right in the middle of the crowd filming, so I jumped back up and joined in. I looked to my right and couldn’t believe what I saw.
My friend, Father Luis Barrios, was kneeling on the ground with 4 uniformed police officers holding him down on his shoulders and head. For a moment it looked like he was praying. But as soon as I saw the force with which they were holding him, I knew he was in pain. So I joined the line of our group of protesters and we locked arms. We were all shaking and hurt but we stood firm and chanted “ARREST BUSH”, “PEACE NOW”, “BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW”, and some other things I don’t even remember.
It seemed to me that at that point the police and secret service just totally backed-up. I couldn’t understand it. I was expecting them to immediately cart us off as the “insane criminals” that they thought we were, but they let us chant. And we did. A man from the onlookers joined us and locked arms in solidarity. We smiled at him. We faced a sea of uniforms, suits, cameras and people watching. They looked as shocked as we were.
All the time I was standing there I thought of my son fighting on little sleep, few rations, somewhere out on the Euphrates River and it made me stronger.
Our voices were heard loud and clear. We accomplished our goal, however tiny a step we took towards the massive movement needed in this Country to stop the fascism. We did it!
We were then arrested and carted off in a paddy wagon. Eleven women and 5 men. The women were in one wagon, with cuffs and dirty clothes. Relief and contentment that we did what we set out to do filled up that old dirty wagon. Here we were, 11 women, ranging in ages from 20 to 78, different in so many ways, spanning many generations but sharing the same goal, and having the time of our lives!
Boy, the NYPD was very sorry they kept us locked up for 5 hours. We did more talking and laughing then I have ever done in my life. We bonded and shared the experience of defiance.
All 16 of us decided that afternoon into the evening that we were the core of the underground movement that would spread out and continue to push back against any fascist government that would deny us our First Amendment rights, and any other rights that we have all fought for long and hard over hundreds of years.
So I say to you, when given no other chance to express yourself, don’t feel hopeless or helpless or afraid, get out there and demand to be heard! It is your right as an American citizen, and don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.
Anti-Bush Protesters Assaulted by Police.
One Faces Felony Charge
(September 29, 2006) — After being assaulted by police during a non-violent protest at the UN and then jailed overnight, Episcopal minister Fr. Luis Barrios of NYC has been charged with felony assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
Disabled Iraq war veteran Geoffrey Millard was also held overnight and charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Both were released this morning. Funds are now needed to continue the struggle.
“President Bush has launched illegal wars, tortured, and committed crimes against humanity, yet he is given an international platform to threaten further crimes,” said protest organizer C. Clark Kissinger of the Bush Crimes Commission.
“Meanwhile non-violent protestors speaking on behalf of humanity are assaulted, arrested and charged with crimes. This is an outrageous attempt to suppress a rising tide of anti-Bush sentiment and protest, and we demand all charges be dropped.”
The two were part of a group of 16 arrested during a non-violent civil disobedience protest directly in front of the UN while Bush was speaking. The diverse group, which held signs and chanted, “Bush is a war criminal. Bush Step Down.” They stated:
“We have come to the United Nations today to engage in non-violent civil disobedience. We demand the war on Iraq end immediately. We oppose any attack on Iran. We declare to the world that President George W. Bush has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He does not speak for us.”
Their action follows the delivery to the White House on September 13 of the Verdict from the Bush Crimes Commission which found the Bush administration guilty of crimes against humanity on five counts.
ACTIONS You Can Take: You can demand the charges be dropped by calling or emailing:
• Mayor Bloomberg: 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)/FAX (212) 788-2460; http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html
• Office of Robert Morgenthau, Manhattan District Attorney: (212) 335-9000
• To wage the defense for “the UN 16” and to continue the promotion of the Bush Commission’s Final Verdict, your financial support is crucial. http://www.ihcenter.org/groups/nion
Text of the verdict may be downloaded as an Adobe PDF file from www.bushcommission.org
• Many of the civil disobedience participants are calling for national protests across the country on October 5, which is the subject of a full-page ad sponsored by World Can’t Wait — Drive Out the Bush Regime Wait in the September 20 issue of USA Today. For an excellent collection of pictures of the action at the UN, see http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2913&Itemid=223
Not In Our Name, to NION, 305 West Broadway, #199, New York, NY 10013.