Dave Lefcourt / OpEd News – 2010-12-22 21:08:51
WASHINGTON, DC (December 16, 2010) — The action began at 10 AM this morning with a crowd numbering about a thousand people milling about a makeshift podium.
It was cold, below freezing and then it started to snow.
Included in the thousand were many Viet Nam era vets (about 300) who it seemed to outnumber the Iraq/Afghan war vets by 3 to 1. Women’s numbers were also about 300 with most of them in their 50’s, while the rest (again about 300) were senior men (over 60) that came despite the elements.
There were a few reporter types milling about talking with and interviewing some participants.
Though obviously cold, the crowd responded enthusiastically to the speakers which included Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and some recent vets (men and women) of the Iraq/Afghan wars.
As the speakers concluded their talks and precisely at 11 AM the call went out to “fall in” and a single file procession of participants (many with signs opposing the wars) began walking from Lafayette Park (across from the White House) to the sound of a single drum beat to the White House fence area whereby some 200 or so (of the 1000) each scaled over a 4′ high temporary barrier and immediately rushed the W.H. fence and stood side by side.
It was said these 200 had met the previous evening and together made the decision to remain at the W.H. fence with the intent (and knowing) their civil resistance would get them arrested.
The scene had some 50 Park Police scattered and obviously just standing by for the order to start arresting people. The police had placed “Do Not Cross” barrier tape around the area essentially sealing it off. Buses (curiously City Metro buses) were parked some 25 yards from the people at the fence.
About 1 PM an officer with a bull horn announced those remaining by the fence were in “violation” and if they didn’t leave they would be arrested. As expected no one left the fence and the police proceeded to move those on the fence to an open tented area where they were arrested, processed and taken on the buses to an offsite detention facility (and based on remarks from vets that were arrested during other civil actions all should be released by tomorrow at the latest).
It must be said this was a completely non violent, civil resistance action solely focused on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In no instance was there a confrontation with police (a requirement made clear by the protest leader of anyone taking part in the action). In fact you could say the action was purely a ” non violent resistance” in the spirit of the civil rights protests led by Martin Luther King in the 1960’s.
The 200 hundred by choosing to be arrested hoped that their action would be a catalyst for other civil resistance actions to take place across the country that these type actions mushroom and hundreds, perhaps thousands of other Americans would pick up the challenge of resistance initiated today as they take their own action to help stop the wars.
Our leaders, the president and the Congress are not listening to the people. The people are not consulted and the people’s representatives have become sycophantic enablers to whatever executive sits in the White House particularly when it comes to taking the country to war.
With the Congress not functioning and acting as representatives of the people it becomes incumbent upon the people themselves through their own resistance to demand these unnecessary wars be brought to an end.
The veterans of our wars (who know first hand the horror of war and the consequences that befall all who get caught up in war) are leading the way.
We must not falter and abandon them by sitting idly by passively believing nothing can be done.
It can be done if we empower ourselves and actively join in the resistance.
Today was just the beginning.
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