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CODEPINK Demonstrates against War, 11 Vets and their Families Arrested Protesting War

March 19, 2011
CODEPINK LA, Vets for Peace, Gold Star Families, Military Families Speakout
Los Angeles, CA

On Saturday I marched in the Los Angeles ANSWER March to end the Occupations. As a Gold Star Auntie I marched with Military Families and Veterans of the Vietnam War. Together with my Skin in the Game Brothers and Sisters, I helped to organize an act of Civil Disobedience at the end of the March. At the pre-march rally 3 delegates from our contingents spoke from the stage. Pat Alviso spoke of her son who is currently on his 4th deployment in Afghanistan. Tim Kaylor spoke of his son who came home physically and mentally broken. From the stage I implored the marchers to support the Military Families and Vets as we all willingly Risk Jail for Justice and our quest for Peace.

I estimate there were perhaps 2,500 in attendance in Los Angeles. We got word there were 3,000 in DC. In the early years of the occupations tens of thousands were in the streets. In DC hundreds of thousands came out. People for whatever reason have grown complacent. Some stay home because they ignorantly believe the Iraq War is over and that the Afghanistan War is a good war protecting us from “Terrorists”. Some stay home because their children are now out of harms way. Some stay home because they are burned out and have lost all hope. Some stay home because Barack Obama is now president and if we would give him time he will do the right thing.

As our march rounded the corner of the CNN building we all got words via the CNN ticker that the USA was launching missiles on Libya. Air Force Mom Lisa Blank ran to the lead flatbed and pointed this out. We stopped the march and made an announcement about the new front. Most of us stood in shock for several minutes. I broke down crying. What a surreal moment. Here we all were. Many of us were marching in our 8th, 9th and 10th march to end what we thought of as 2 wars as a third was breaking out.

At the end of the march we began to get ready for our Civil disobedience. Our mission: Risking Arrest to get our message heard. Our message: The True Cost of War/ War is not a Hollywood Movie. Our target: Graumann’s Chinese Theater. Our action: Place empty boots representing the troops killed in action in the occupations on the stars cement slabs. Create our own slab by imprinting an empty set of Army boots into a clay slab. Signing it “5945 Forgotted Dead” 1.4 million Iraqi’s and Afghan’s...

25 of us sat down in the courtyard of the theater. As we did supporters were placing the boots onto the star footprints. A very fussy representative from the theater came out and told us we had to leave “this is private property”, we ignored him so he summoned the LAPD. Again. We were told by the LAPD we must leave at the request of the theater. We told the PD we were not going to leave. Hundreds of people lined the barriers snapping pictures and seeing our powerful message. Our “cement slab was finally smuggled into the courtyard. We had no Iraq/Afghanistan Vets willing to sit with us so Vietnam Vet Ed Garza came forward. We imprinted the boots into the clay and Ed signed for not only the kids we have lost to the current “wars” but for all victims of War.

At this point negotiations began between our legal Advisor Jim Lafferty from the LA Lawyers Guild, the LAPD and the theater. Jim came and told us as did the LAPD Hollywood division Capt. Beatriz that they did not want to arrest us. The theater was willing to let us sit for an additional 20 minutes. We countered that if our sound system could be brought in and we could give our testimonials we would agree. Well, that did not happen. Press was allowed in to talk to us. Once we realized this was what was happening the 25 began to negotiate amongst ourselves. I personally was of the mindset that we all agreed to leave if we were heard. We were heard via the press. Some wanted to stand firm because we did not get the sound system. Of course the March stage was then offered to us as a forum. Which of course we had access to all along. That is when Ed Garza took a stand. Ed was not going to leave. We huddled around Ed to get his thoughts. Because if one of us stayed it was important that we all stay. At first Ed said he did not know why. Then he began to cry. Ed lost 2 friends this month to agent Orange. 11 of us sat down with Ed. 11 of us got arrested.

Written by Dede Miller
Photos by Holly Brown and Kristen Ess