Why CODEPINK Is Picketing Rep. Barbara Lee

February 23rd, 2023 - by CODEPINK

Why Is CODEPINK Picketing Barbara Lee?


Press Conference Set at Rep. Lee’s office
February 24, 2023, Noon-1PM
One Kaiser Plaza, Oakland 

OAKLAND, Calif. (February 23, 2023) — Constituents in Representative Barbara Lee’s district are frustrated that she has not agreed to a meeting we’ve been requesting for months to discuss her position and actions in Congress regarding the conflict in Ukraine. Neither have her aides responded to our requests to schedule a meeting that we’ve been requesting for months.

As a result, we are gathering at her Oakland office on Friday, February 24, at noon, to hold a press conference and informational picket line.

Peace and justice activists and groups in her district, a large constituency of voters, are asking for a public statement from her regarding her position on the conflict in Ukraine, especially in regard to her votes for $ billions for weapons instead of calling for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the conflict.

Constituents are disappointed and dismayed that she is voting to fund the war industry, which is reaping huge profits from the conflict, vs. helping her constituents, including the vast houseless population of the East Bay and families who are suffering the challenges of inflation– from food to gasoline.

Community services and programs are lacking funds, including funding alternatives to policing, for schools, food security programs, mental health services, and so forth, but she continues to vote money for weapons, which is resulting in a continuation of the conflict in Ukraine, an escalation of the conflict, predictable retaliation by Russia, and the potential for a conventional war which could lead to World War III, or to a nuclear war which will end life on earth.

Representative Lee likely wants our support for her Senate campaign. We have appreciated her as a true progressive in Congress and someone who has introduced great legislation which sometimes advances to the Senate. She is a reliable friend to us in her Congressional work, but we find her position and actions on the Ukraine conflict troubling, if not downright pro-war.

We are finding it difficult to figure out how she can vote to enrich the weapons industry and the Pentagon while at the same time perennially introducing legislation to cut the Pentagon Budget, require an audit of the Pentagon, and voting against the AUMF and NDAA.

War protests gather outside Rep. Lee’s Oakland office.

Again, we know that there is no military solution to the conflict in Ukraine, and therefore she and Congress need to all for diplomacy and negotiations, as they did in a letter to President Biden, which was subsequently withdrawn, with only Representative Ro Khanna stating publicly that their call for diplomacy was the right thing to do.

We wish that Lee had joined Khanna and are, again, mystified by her silence.

As a candidate for Senate from California, we need to know whether she will be a Senator who truly represents the needs of California, which are to prioritize community needs over the profits of the war industry, or whether she will continue to vote with the Democrat Party to endanger us and the world by supporting more war. We ask the same of the other candidates for Senate in California.

In addition, we want to know if she and they will:

•  help defund the Pentagon, defund NATO, stop voting billions in aid to the repressive Israeli government,

•  protect our civil and electoral rights, lift the US economic sanctions on over 30 countries (an illegal form of warfare and collective punishment of civilian populations),

•  free political prisoners whose alleged crimes were telling the truth as publishers and whistleblowers (Julian Assange, Daniel Hale, Edward Snowden, Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Pelltier, and others),

•  reduce the mass incarcerated population, stop allowing ICE and other agencies to violate human rights, and other issues that we want our next Senator to work for on our behalf and the behalf of California.

We will not endorse any of the candidates for Senate as CODEPINK, nor will any 501(c)(3) group make an endorsement. We will request that the candidates tell the voting public what their positions are on issues critical to our work for peace and justice.

Cynthia Papermaster is a CodePink organizer and a Constituent of Congressional District 12 in Berkeley, CA.