Posted by CODEPINK Staff
The following was written by Leslie Harris, CODEPINK Dallas Coordinator
Bush was the keynote speaker at this awful Mortgage Lenders' convention yesterday...all about foreclosures, evictions, how to get around those pesky rent-control issues, etc. Ugh!
We ascertained early on that there was no way to "attend" the breakfast (you even had to show ID to get a stars-and-stripes-laden conference badge), so we decided to drop the banners in the huge atrium above where the conventioneers were coming in. All the heavy security was at the doors to the ballroom, so we were able to display the banners to a constant stream of people for almost ten minutes!
When the hotel security finally arrived and said, "Please take up those banners," we said, "Okay," wrapped them up, and started to leave. We thought she'd just escort us out, but waiting at the end of the corridor was a boatload of uniforms from several different law enforcement entities. The man who appeared to be the head of hotel security was not pleased and declined to shake my hand. :(
They escorted us into an elevator and to an office with a lobby, where they had us sit down, show IDs, and read us the riot act. Then they took us separately into another office and a Secret Service guy "interrogated" us. Yikes! He asked what we were trying to do, so I gave him an earful about why Bush should be held accountable, listed some of his crimes, and said that we were just working for peace. He then said that that was going to be his next question - were we intending any violence? Wow - that really got me! I said, "No! That's why we're here: WE'RE TRYING TO STOP THE VIOLENCE!" Duh!
The whole time, we kept hearing "criminal trespass" and a couple officers were writing what looked like tickets, so I asked what they were doing and they said they were writing "Criminal trespass......warnings." Whew!
So, while the other two were being grilled in the "interrogation room" (somebody's office), I took the opportunity to go on & on to the several police officers who were left to guard us about everything, including the housing and financial crises.
After finishing the separate intimidation sessions, we were all back in the main room and they said, "Last thing: ladies, are there any others of you in any area of the hotel who are planning to disrupt anything?" We said no. Then the Dallas Police Detective (the nice one, who protected our first amendment rights last week at the Rove thing) said, "Are you sure?" We promised and added that if there was anyone else, we didn't know about it. Then she asked again: "Are you suuure?" "Where's Reverend Diane? Are you sure she's not in the breakfast?"
Roflol. (Diane was home, sick.)
Anyway...they took our pictures & we're on probation and can't go back into the hotel for two months. Just before releasing us, the Secret Service guy gave the final reading of the riot act. Then I gave a long soliloquy about why Bush should be arrested and gave them the Arrest Complaint. Can't remember the exact words, 'cause I was a bit flustered, but it went about like this: "I just want to say that I find it so ironic that a man who is guilty of war crimes according to international law and the Geneva Conventions which stipulate aggressive war and torture as illegal is getting paid over a hundred grand to speak to bankers he bailed out, while three grandmothers advocating for peace and standing silently with pink banners are being treated as criminals." Somewhere in there, I threw in a line about the hundreds of thousands killed, including children. As I listened to my own words, I started to choke up at the absolute iniquity and human injustice of it all, and I ended up crying....which turned out not to be so bad, because I had a room full of very attentive people in positions of some influence who were listening to every word without interruption. And we ended on that note.
Anyway, here's the video. Turn up the volume after the Standard Rebellion intro.
My favorite is the woman who flipped us off as the security guy in the blue shirt was calling for back-up. She was walking toward us, yelling "STUPID, STUPID, STUPID" the whole way. Guess she couldn't think of anything substantive.
Oh - just wanted to add that what probably bothered me the most - even more than the workshops about foreclosure, evictions, etc. - was that right before Bush spoke (actually he probably participated), they had a give-away of 5 homes to wounded veterans and their families. The lowest of low...exploiting wounded veterans to paint a veneer of altruism and legitimacy on themselves. And so many people will fall for it. But when I got really mad was when it dawned on me where those homes were coming from. (Some of their training was on how to get the most profit out of flipping foreclosed homes...and how to dispose of the ones that didn't sell.)
Sigh...our work is never done!