For actions since March 2008 see our Blog.
Actions April 2007 - November 2007 on this page
Actions June 2006 - March 2007
More Actions in 2005-06, Winter 2007
November 19, 2007: The Granny Peace Brigade Goes to College: It’s often asked by peace activist organizations – "Where are the young people? Why aren’t they speaking out for peace and justice?"
Responding to an invitation from Adelphi University Professor Deborah Little, five members of the Granny Peace Brigade traveled to the University and met with students from the Women, Peace and Justice Project seminar. We spoke about issues the GPB is working on and described direct actions to effect change. We hoped presenting the Grannies' message and activism would serve as a model for college students. We were not disappointed!
Over 100 students from the Sociology and Political Science Departments attended the seminar. Each Granny spoke about an event or issue of current importance and relevance to the students. Molly Klopot spoke of how women activists from several peace groups united in an action which resulted in founding the GPB. Phyllis Cunningham introduced the legislative committees’ action issues, Eva-Lee Baird explained the Phone-A-Thon project and materials. After viewing a video of a phone-a-thon action at Columbus Circle, a student volunteered to call her representative as everyone listened and applauded. Activism 101!
Barbara Harris discussed the prevalence of military recruiters in the schools as well as in targeted neighborhoods, what the GPB is doing to counter the recruiters' aggressive tactics and misleading promises, what needs to be done, and how college students can get involved in this effort. Nydia Leaf explained the call for abolition of all US military bases on foreign soil, the current situation surrounding the presence of such bases including Guantanamo, and the geo-strategy and economic interests which guide US policy.
Most gratifying to us from the hour spent with the students was their obvious interest in the issues, their receptiveness to our information and respect for our experience, the understanding that each has a responsibility to act, and their desire to learn how to become more active in the peace movement.
One hour for the seminar was far too short, but at the Q and A several students asked questions ranging from personal concerns about patriotism and a family tradition of military service, to media control of information and political actions, to the pervasiveness of violent video games. The final question was straightforward: A student wanted to call Senator Schumer with a message loud and clear – "End the occupation, Bring the troops home now – and I will forgive you for the Mukasey vote."
Several students remained to share experiences with us such as the young man with years in JROTC and preparation for military service, who finally realized he wanted a different choice for himself –a college education and a path to community service. A young woman wanted to know how her grandmother could get in touch with us.
We all agreed this opportunity to speak with and learn from college students was very fruitful outreach. They have energy, know-how, and an interest in ongoing education for peace. We offered the impetus and example to just do it.
The GPB plans to pursue academic outreach and present similar seminars in order to continue a dialogue with student groups. - Barbara Harris
Photos of GPB and Adelphi students
The Granny Peace Brigade’s Teach-In to “Close Guantanamo and All U.S. Bases on Foreign Soil” had an overflow crowd at St. Mark’s Church on Veterans Day November 11, 2007. Organized by the No Bases Committee and moderated by Vinie Burrows, the event was dedicated to the memory of Dave Cline, co-founder of Veterans for Peace, and was held on November 11th – a day designated as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War One and now called Veterans Day (USA) and Remembrance Day Canada).
The Teach-In included an expert panel of speakers who gave impassioned presentations on a variety of related areas: Guantanamo – Lynn Kates from the Center for Constitutional Rights: Germany’s Bases – Elsa Rassbach of American Voices Abroad:Global opposition – Al Marder of the World Peace Council: Impact on civilian life – Regina Birchem, Women’s International League For Peace and Freedom
There is great urgency in informing the U.S. public on the little known topic of military bases overseas as the Pentagon seeks to expand its presence beyond the current 737 bases in 130 countries. Expansion plans include transferring its African Central Command from Germany to Africa, enlarging existing bases in Northern Italy, and establishing anti-missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic – all these despite enormous local opposition. And perhaps, most fearsome, is the stated goal of the U.S. Space Command’s Vision for 2020 seeking total domination “of the space dimension of military operations.”
The Granny Peace Brigade welcomed support for the Teach-In from many sister organizations working to awaken the U.S. public to the costs, globally and domestically, of this military “Baseworld”: American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Workers, Code Pink, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, War Resisters League, and the Women’s International Democratic Federation. Music appropriate to the Veterans Day theme, performed by Joan Wile with additional songs by the NYC Metro Raging Grannies, was well received.
Our next Teach-In will take place in early 2008 on the base structures in Okinawa and other sites. Look for details posted on this website.
- Nydia Leaf
Photos of Teach-In
Close Bases Page
There's a short video of the November 11 Teach-In on the GPB video channel on YouTube.
Counter Recruiting on Parent Night, October 25, 2007 – Reports from two New York City high schools:
At Washington Irving on report card night we (Caroline, Barbara W. and Eva-Lee) found ourselves on the steps of Washington Irving HS with a cluster of kids nervously waiting for their parents. The young people were easy to engage and ask about the opt-out form. We learned from some of them that the principal had sent the form to them at home, that they knew about it, had signed it and turned it in to the school office. Others didn’t seem as aware, and didn’t quite understand what we were talking about. In general, those were younger students, students newer to the school, and students whose first language was Spanish.
Because it was report card night, we figured it was best to approach parents on the way in if they would stop then. As we explained that we were not recruiters, just people wanting students and their parents to be aware of their right to decline having their information given by the school to the military, many of them were spontaneous in saying they had no interest in serving. One girl said, “hey, I’m going to college!” A parent said, “Let Bush send his daughters!” No child or parent expressed any spontaneous interest in joining up with the military. Parents were either very much on top of the opt out form, or they really needed help understanding it. Sometimes, the student translated for the parent and helped with their grasping it; we were persistent when we found someone who had not filled out or turned in the form that they take the time and do it right there and then with the help of our clipboards. Lots of the parents were Spanish-speaking. We had the Spanish language versions of the forms, Eva-Lee had enough Spanish to engage people, and the children could then translate for their parents. We found that the approach line, “Are you a parent?” was 90% effective in engaging this group.
Overall, we knew we were making a difference and were glad to be there. We talked with about 30 parent-child pairs. We didn’t hand out literature without talking to the recipient. We did give out some extras to people to give to friends. Our impression was that these were the good guys, caring parents and students. - Caroline Chinlund
At Park East High School Nancy K. and I spoke with many, many parents and some students. Several students had signed the opt-out forms previously as had some parents. Yet many parents did not know about the opt-out form or about the factors involved. Nancy had some parents sign the forms on the spot and later she turned the forms in at the school office. When Nancy spoke with security at the school re: the purpose of our presence they were very receptive and told Nancy that they didn't want any of the students to enter the military.
I also spoke with a woman (she was "on the run") who said that she was the president of the Parents' Association. She knew all about the opt-out form as "we" came and spoke at a Parents' Association meeting last year and said that “we” were coming again this year. I said that most likely was the American Friends Service Committee and she replied, "yes." I told her that we weren’t from the AFSC but, we worked with them.
The experience was very positive - many parents thanked us for being there - and the school administration seems supportive re: not giving student info to the military. We should go into more schools to speak with parents' associations and teachers/administrations, for that matter. That's all for now! - Phyllis Cunningham
Watch counter recruiters in action in "Counter Recruiting on Parent Night" on the GPB video channel on YouTube.
Counter Recruiting Page
Phone-A-Thon News - October 12th, 2007: The morning’s rain clouds sped away, Grannies and their allies appeared in Union Square along with the sunshine. We were 11 strong, bearing cell phones, Fran’s trusty folding table draped in pink and Peace banner, with sign inviting people to make a free call to their legislators to let them know it’s time to save the troops and stop funding the war. Today's’ people were even more receptive to literature and conversation than to calling legislators, though we did assist people in making a healthy number of successful calls.
Fran, Jenny and Joan P connected when talking with people lunching on benches in the park. Today’s emphasis with legislators was No Preemptive War on Iran, insist on our side opening up to negotiations. Eva-Lee, Betty and Barbara H noticed that being near the table, near the park wall, away from the flow of pedestrian traffic was the place for attracting phoners. The flurry of excitement and conversation, Betty’s buttons and the literature all combined to get people to give up their hurried pace.
Barbara W talked with a man from Italy. He apologized for asking, but wondered how as an American she could have let Bush be elected a second time! Another person who spends much of his time in Argentina said that there he reads the news that we here don’t seem to know about due to the bias of our media. A man from Canada asked, “How can I help? This is my last day here!” A couple of us gave him more than enough encouragement to get his government to censure the lack of willingness of the U.S. to negotiate to peaceful settlement of differences with Iran.
Barbara H assisted a woman who was very angry with Hillary Clinton for signing the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. When the caller got on the phone with the Clinton staffer, her voice became very intense, and she said, “one more thing... there should be no attack on Iran, absolutely not.” She and others were frustrated with Hillary for being so political and careful in her public statements.
Young people stopped by and thanked us for being there and said more of them should be involved and that our location near NYU and The New School was good for getting students’ attention. A grandfather stopped to talk. He said young people don’t realize what all of this means to them, losing the constitution, jeopardizing their future. The number of students who thanked us and picked up literature suggested that some young people do recognize our crisis.
At 1:30 six of us debriefed over lunch and collected these stories. Later we got the following story from Jenny. - Caroline Chinlund
Jenny's Phone-A-Thon Story: I approached a young woman - actually, I approached the young woman's adorable dog to pat it, and as I looked up to be polite to the owner I figured I'd ask her if she wanted to make a call to Congress to tell them what she thinks of the war and funding and impeachment . After a full lick from her dog I stood up and offered her my phone. She was anxious and said she'd never done anything like this and really didn't say things well and wasn't articulate. I said that the issue was what did she believe about what was happening and that she might trust that however it came out, she'd be expressing her point of view and strengthening a withering democracy. So, I dialed Hillary, it went to tape. I dialed Shumer and it connected - She turned away from me to speak, but when she got off she turned to me radiant and exclaimed " that was fun and easy!! that felt good ." I said "great! Want to make another call? " In all, she made three calls and I think that Eva-Lee and I may have attracted another CodePinker to the ranks!! It was real fun experience for me as well to see her enthusiasm about taking action. - Jenny Heinz
New York Anti-War Grannies Defy Infirmities Of Age, Agitate For Peace Crossing Brooklyn Bridge You just can't keep us down. Despite arthritic hips and knees, blindness, hearing loss, cancer surgeries and other maladies of old age, the Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against the War, and the Raging Grannies of the New York City area walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan Sunday, September 9, 2007 Grandparents Day, and then all the way to Ground Zero...
The choice of Grandparents Day, September 9, had three-fold implications -- not only that it was specifically a day honoring grandparents but also the fact that it was immediately prior to the sixth anniversary of the September 11 World Trade Center atrocity and, most important of all this year, a prelude to the start of the Congressional hearings vis a vis the Petraeus report and the many planned protests throughout the country in that regard. - Joan Wile full article at http://www.michaelmoore.com/mustread/index.php?id=914.
And check out the video made by Mauricio Soto at http://www.current.tv/watch/167820312
Barbara Walker receives the Athena Award on Staten Island - Sunday, August 12, 2007.
Her acceptance speech:
A major concern for me these past 4 years has been the war in Iraq. Some of us have seen the questioning bumper sticker “No, seriously, why did we invade Iraq?” and there is the answering question “How did our oil get under their sand?”
We invaded and now occupy a country that had done nothing to us. At UN headquarters in New York, I worked for a while in the department headed by Denis Halliday. In September 1997, Mr. Halliday went to Iraq as head of the UN humanitarian program - UN Oil For Food Program in Iraq. He resigned the post 13 months later, citing as one reason the hardship the program wrought upon the Iraqi people, especially the children. Iraq was a country that had been brought to its knees by post-Gulf War sanctions. We told the working weapons inspectors to leave Iraq and we invaded and occupied the country. In November 2004, we destroyed Fallujah, which was described as a beautiful city of mosques. We had told the residents to leave. Horrific pictures of the Fallujah carnage and destruction are on the Internet. Insurgents??? If a foreign power invaded and occupied this country, I would definitely be an insurgent and would certainly welcome outside help. Our young people are being recruited and sent out to kill and to be killed; they have bull's-eyes front and back. Furthermore, and this is truly unconscionable, why were they not given the best armor possible -- why, for example, were they required to patch up Humvees when the much greater effectiveness against roadside bombs (improvised explosive devises) provided by the South African “Casspir” ('v' configured) armored personnel carrier had to be known by the managers of this operation.
I feel I must do whatever I can to support the troops by stressing the necessity of our getting them out of Iraq. Yes, our government must bear financial responsibility/make reparations. But, as I see it, if we are realistic, we must know that Iraq itself, with the aid of agencies of its choice, should be allowed to begin its recovery.
This is why Peace Action Staten Island, the Granny Peace Brigade, and other organizations work to draw the attention of our representatives and the public to the inadvisability and immorality of our current position and action in Iraq. This work is so necessary. This award, for which I am grateful, acknowledges the importance of the endeavors of our local organizations. - Barbara Walker
Coney Island — When thousands of people poured into Coney Island to celebrate America’s birthday last week with hot dogs and beach games, 88-year-old Molly Klopot fought her way uptown for a different kind of celebration. Read the article by Kathy Wang in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A Lifetime of Activism: 88-Year-Old Granny Speaks for Peace
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 in the Park with Norman Siegel. Forget about fireworks, picnics, and barbecues. What have they got to do with the true meaning of Independence Day, anyway? No, we New York peace grannies and friends celebrated this important occasion last Wednesday in the true spirit of the day. Read the article by Joan Wile in the Common Dreams Newsletter.
Notes From The Street:
June 28th 2007 Phone-A-Thon
Brooklyn @ Court and Montague
First of all, it was HOT. For some people, the idea of engaging in political discourse was too much to consider...but for others, it just fueled their resolve to connect with their representatives. As always, there were memorable moments for everyone there -- here are a few of the highlights.
Barbara Harris was serenaded by an impromptu peace song - reggae style - and two young mothers made their phone calls to their congressional representatives -- while one called, the other explained to their children what was happening. They carefully laid out how people are elected to congress to represent and work for the people and how folks have to make sure these representatives do their jobs. Obviously, the art of teaching civics is still alive and well!
For Eva Lee, one caller was particularly evocative - connecting to Senator Clinton's office, the caller was clearly getting a standard script from an aide when she simply but firmly stated, "My son in is Iraq. I want him home." Eva Lee said she could feel the whole conversation change.
A woman who introduced herself as Pat made a call on Caroline's cell phone to Senator Schumer's office - she spoke at length and passionately to one of the an aide about her own situation. She had recently lost her housing and was involved in a court case - she argued passionately that to continue to fund an illegal war when people in the United States are homeless was immoral. She exchanged email information with Caroline and promised to be in touch when her case came before the court.
Two young men - fresh from a prerelease screening of SICKO - made calls to both Senator Clinton's and Senator Schumer's office if Fran promised to see the movie as soon as it opens. They both felt radicalized by the film and want as many people to see it as possible. In addition, Fran spent time with a group of women who all came from Port au Prince. All naturalized US citizens, the women were eager to make calls to their representatives and express their distaste for what one called "the war machine." The aunt of a young woman who has served 15 months as an RN in Bagdad was particularly forceful with Senator Clinton's office. Her niece had recently been informed that her tour was being extended and the woman gave an eloquent plea to bring this young woman home and "all our wonderful children."
For all involved, the site of Owen - our faithful supporter and friend - walking through the heat-waves of the plaza in a pink tee-shirt and his anti-war signs, was indeed welcome.
Anne Wangh - a recent and dedicated addition to our ranks of phone-a-thoner - has offered to make-up stickers to give to participants.
We'll be back on the streets on July 19th. Our location is scheduled for Brooklyn again -- the combination of an active farmer's market and the action at the Brooklyn courts guarantee good participants.
As always, we want to hear from all of you -- what are you doing and what kind of reaction are you getting. We welcomed and posted news from peace activists in Danbury, Connecticut on our website - www.grannypeacebrigade.org - on the "Let's Hear From You" page. If any of you are spending part of the summer in those environs, drop by. The more we connect, the stronger we become. We'd love to list your events and, if we can, we'd love to participate with you in future actions.
Peace, stay cool and keep hydrated!
- The Legislative Committee & Phone-A-Thoners
The June 28th, 2007 one-year anniversary event in Philadelphia brought back a lot of memories. The crowd of supporters which included a Delaware Valley chapter of Veterans for Peace was a good size - at least 75, with a German TV crew and some other media, the weather was the same (hot), and our peace procession went first to the recruiting center (closed) where we read the names of the 168 dead from Philadelphia. The mood was friendly but somber. Mike Berg spoke and read names, looking thinner and more drawn than last year. I hoped to speak to him later but when I looked for him he was gone.
Then the names were read of the 1000 US who died in the year from June 28,'06 to '07 as well as an equal number of Iraqi who've lost their lives.
There aren't many pedestrians in Philly but cars honked and drivers reached out for flyers, and everyone was pleased that the NY GPB was represented and supporting this action. We walked around the City Hall and back to the center and on to the Friends House. And then a large group of us had dinner.
I bring back greetings from Marlena, Nina, Ruth and Paula who organized the event which involved printing a song and chant sheet, boots and small paper cranes for each of the dead, dropped into a container as the names were read. They are starting their own phone-a-thons, and I told them about Laurie's "drop"postcards - and they would like to help with that as well.
It occurred to me that if any of us has the time (!!), it would be wonderful to contact our host groups from the trek last year and update them. A lot has happened in the intervening 12 months. - Nydia Leaf
June 26, 2007 ACLU Day of Action: The buses came from all over the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union had a goal of 2500 attendees and 4000 came for a day of lobbing for the restoration of Habeas Corpus, end of torture and extraordinary rendition, closing Guantanamo and restoring the rule of law.
Gathering together for the rally in the Upper Senate Park on a typical hot humid DC day, we listened to the impassioned speakers, among them Senators Cardin, Harkin and Patrick Leahy. Representatives Conyers, Kucinich and Nadler addressed the cheering crowd. We flooded the streets and Congressional Office buildings wearing our white ACLU T-shirts identifying our issues. On the back of the shirt there are forty-eight organization names listed as sponsors for this event.
We were given folders with appointment times set up with various representatives and Senators Clinton and Schumer. The handouts included lobbying speaking points, listed how the government officials voted on the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and whether they are cosponsoring the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act and the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.
We stormed the Hill!
Buddy and I visited Carolyn Maloney's office and attended the Clinton staff meeting. We spent our time between meetings with the crowd at the most interesting Jerry Nadler hearings on how the Military Commissions Act has been implemented.
The Granny Peace Brigade will explore how to take an opportunity to sponsor and support these types of actions. We must stay in the loop ladies! - Bev Rice
Mother's Day, 2007: Members of Code Pink, Mouths Wide Open, Women in Black, Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against the War, WILPF and a snappy rhythm section arose early and assembled on a corner in Columbus Circle for a Mother‘s Day action. All gathered, we were more than 50 men and women ready to “step off” to recreate Julia Ward Howe‘s 1870 Mothers Day for Peace Proclamation.
Clear as the day, the Raging Grannies were in full throat. Molly Klopot sang along with the squinting, fancy hatted choir. Always in the spirit, Molly decided to make this day “a great and earnest day of counsel.” So, when she saw me towing two giant black balloons proclaiming “Troops Home Now” she waved me over.
“We should be doing this kind of thing on a regular basis.” she began.
I doubted we could get this kind of crowd on an ordinary day, for sure, there need to be some holiday or a reason.
“This is what our work is about: going into communities and telling them about War‘s impact on their everyday lives. That‘s reason enough.”
“Well maybe we could do this kind of thing again for Father’s Day.” someone suggested.
“You mean a ‘Bring our Daddies home’ kind of thing?” piped someone else joining the strolling congress.
“Yes. That’s it. We can bring our song sheets and talk about the reality. Just spread the idea of promoting peace through song and across cultures.” Molly encouraged.
“Maybe we could do it once a month.“ I agreed.
“What about the Mermaid parade (June 23, 2007) in Coney Island? What a great place for us to go!” said a third person catching Molly’s limitless vision.
“Yes! Yes! We want people to do this kind of thing -- just like that.”
People nodded, mumbled “Good job” or “Thanks for doing this” and some joined in. Kyla Malone was walking Tasha, who displayed, on her collar, a colored tag commemorating Nick Sowinski (died in Iraq). Kyla showed us a photo of her other friend Chis Lunpin. A grandmother from San Francisco invited her family, who gladly trooped along pushing stroller while their older child danced along to the drums. And, then, along came our favorite advocate, Norman Siegel, the one who saved the Grannies from going to Gitmo. Norman marched along with us for several blocks and we asked him what is holding up Impeachment. He said that “Law makers are too chicken to do that.” We clipped along, as by now Molly was in the lead with the Granny Peace Brigade banner. Before he fell to the back to greet the others, the counselor reminded us that people can be tried after they leave office. For example, he went on “An (unnamed Hollywood Heavy) had retained Mr. Siegel giving him $10,000 as an impeachment fund for use after Nixon. (But, Ford pardoned him.)
Our growing parade performed on the steps of Lincoln Center, meandered through flea markets chanting “Mother’s day - no more war - Mother’s say, Troops Home Now!’” to two thumbs up, waved banners agreeable to honkers as we crossed streets, passed out literature and tiny soldiers (with “Take Me Home" stickers on their feet) to the festive brunchers at cafes on Amsterdam Ave., then, graced two corners at the Natural History with songs and ritual silence, continued snaking through the Park (wheelchairs and all) and, finally, arrayed ourselves as if a chorus line in front of the Metropolitan Museum steps.
We must have gotten the act together during the prior two hours because the crowded steps were moved to applause.
Folding the Granny Peace Brigade Banner into her bag Molly said, again, “We need to continue to reach out and often.”
- Diane Dreyfus
Julia Ward Howe says:
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
Well, 'Impeachment Week' in April 2007 started out all kinds of spring hope for me.
What with Gonzales and Wolfowitz stories aloft and that seamy DC massage scandal featuring Chatty Madame, not to mention the complete irony of the Veto taking place on "'Mission Accomplished' Day."
It all augured for an awesome and surprising kickoff and the President would praise some whiz kids in
Harlem on Monday. His mariah of Hummers and Limos blew past yawning "free speech pens" on deserted blocks. Along the way, no local crowd bunched up to greet the Decider at school....
Except, of course, for the knot of us grannies and CCNY kids keen to protest him, there.
By us, neighborhood people showed IDs and waited upon official nods to negotiate the pens tumbling bundles and bobbling.
Meanwhile, Carol asked the police when they had notice about the visit. "Two days ago."
"Cops, activists; everybody got such short notice," she observed.
Nydia wondered if Bush was reading "My Pet Goat", again; Vinie filled a reporter's ear while Phyllis displayed the number dead to the dribble of traffic...There was a moment when people waiting at the check point belted out "Gawd help America." accompanied by Bev on the drums and Eva Lee conducting everybody really sang out "...'Cuz our leaders are cheaters and they're making the world really mad."
Wednesday, I bought a camera and Thursday morning, wedged myself into the 7AM Chinatown bus bound for the Imperial City and A26 action. In front of me and behind sat two wonderful young ones: a freshman at Fordham and a very tired Brazilian teacher rushing to catch a plane to Miami.. In answer to their polite question about what was I doing, they were plied with posters from UPFJ and briefed about the planned peace action at the Hart building.
"It's 'Impeachment Week!!' Didn't you hear about the festivities planned all over the country?" I panicked wondering if anyone else but a close circle of friends knew about it."
But once I got to the Hart Building, I was pressed into the busy atrium -- random office workers and kids-on-tour were milling about echoing in the hall. Most "normal" and nonchalant was Medea Benjamin swishing through all tiara'ed in a Pink garment festooned with a sash that read "I Miss America." Various Code-Pinkers negotiated the crush
of press and the assemblage.
As a "Fluffer", my part was to free the banner as it came down to the fifth floor. Across the way, I could see others flanked by a brace of cops and two floors above I could see the banner droppers arrayed and at the ready. To my right, was a woman laying down an ad hoc memorial in front of a Texas senator's office accompanied by a Viet Nam Vet against THIS
war. "Is THIS pro Life?" the woman challenged a perky senate aide.
Below, the press conference begun and memorial woman picked up the photos with the police looking on. Then, she came to the railing and sang (to the tune of "He's got the Whole World in His Hands" ) "He wants to
bomb the whole world .. like he did in Iraq."
As we sang, some Police made the motion of a banner rolling and looked up at us. The atrium began to sing along while the school children looked on from the black footing of the Calder mobile.
In an instant one black banner swooshed over the wailing "Article II Section 4: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." it solemnly exclaimed. A heartbeat later another silently unfurled: "Your Silence Your Legacy."
Later we would learn that the suddenness of the drop was based on information from two little girls, who were traveling with their mother. They had overheard the police saying to each other "We can't move until the students are out of the way." The mother relayed this by cellphone to someone on the seventh floor who signaled the banner droppers to "Go."
The shock and awe evaporated in ululation: "IMPEACH!" we cried. As that plea subsided a military funeral began and Taps were played somewhere on the upper floors. The theme was barely sounded when it stopped. People on the floor took up humming the
rest. The police came in and handcuffed the participants while they were respectively kneeling and praying.
Soon enough an invisible circle was drawn by an unsympathetic police woman and the arrests ensued.
"This is not a free country..We can not speak!", she
screamed while being lead away.
"The criminals are in the White House", accused another as she came into custody.
"We are not disturbing the peace we are asking for it." said the little girls on the sidelines.
If she were present, Hannah Arandt would say "It is the everyday-ness of this evil war that blinds us to its effect."
We conferred with our new friends over lunch and they were kind enough to lead the way to the "jail." There, we could see the arrested group sitting at card tables deep in a dark garage.
The police came out to chat. The officer's assignment is strictly to guard the congress and they allowed that they would be pleased to collect fifty dollar fines from each one for this arrest and send them home with clean records.
But, because the war needs to be on trial, we knew that no one would be about paying the "street tax." The main question was if the banner could be retrieved from it's impound.
After that was settled with a "NO." I wandered back into the bus and headed for the big Impeachment event in Central Park... This was to be a bit of an "end zone dance" for the arestees but the event was disappointingly small.
The next morning, I woke up to Wolfowitz's resignation and cranked up the volume -- Alas, it was only a blurb about a discussion.
After all this extraordinary running around, I returned to the regular Rock Center Vigil...grateful that every Wednesday is another day in Impeachment week. - Diane Dreyfus
Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Harlem Visit:
On April 24, 2007 approximately 14 members and supporters of the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB) met in Harlem to protest George Bush's "visit" to Harlem Village Academy, a Charter School, to promote the the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. We had the GPB banner, the
"We Will Not Be Silent" banner, Peace Action posters with Bush's head..."war-head" and a sign reading "No Child Left Behind? 3332 U.S. Lives Left Behind in Iraq!" as well as pots, pans and noise-makers.
The block on which the school is located, was cordoned-off. We were penned-in on the northeast corner of 144th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard and monitored by a hefty number of uniformed police and some in civilian clothes. Many joined us including people from MoveOn, Fight Back, ANSWER, and what was heart-warming, were the students who came from City College. We sang and chanted. All together, there were about 50 or 60 people protesting where we were. The audience, was vehicular traffic, neighborhood people, and of course...the police.
We never saw Bush...but heard, at a later point in time, that he was quite late, didn't spend much time at the Harlem Village Academy, and attended a fund raiser in the city. - Phyllis Cunningham