Photo by Peter Menchini
by Toby Blomé
“The children are always ours, every single one of them, all over the globe; and I am beginning to suspect that whoever is incapable of recognizing this may be incapable of morality.” - James Baldwin
A couple of us arrived in the early morning to find several black SUVs (Capitol police) parked out front: BINGO, Nancy Pelosi was home. Banners were raised as more fasters and supporters arrived over the next couple of hours. We were surprised to find the chalking from Friday still clearly visible at the path to her front door: “Pelosi, Stop Supporting Genocide, CEASEFIRE NOW!”
AFTER weeks of pro-Palestinian protests locally, nationally and globally, including a very vibrant one in S.F. on Saturday that blocked the 101 Fwy, and AFTER a barrage of calls and email to Pelosi’s offices demanding a CEASEFIRE in Gaza, and AFTER two days of fasting and vigiling in front of her SF home by CODEPINK, Nancy Pelosi showed no signs of changing her position, and continued to ignore calls for a ceasefire. Two of us, Lydie Abood and myself, felt the need to raise our peaceful resistance to another level. The scope and scale of Israel's genocidal war crimes, carnage, forced displacement and blockade of severely needed supplies necessary to sustain life was ceaseless.
We knew there wasn’t a lot of time, Pelosi could exit her home at any moment. A quick plan of peaceful resistance was discretely plotted out. When a black SUV started backing into Pelosi’s driveway, we knew that she would be exiting her home soon. We approached the large SUV, a few on either side of the vehicle, and Lydie and I agreed that we would cautiously lay our bodies down in front of the SUV, once Pelosi approached the vehicle. But we both agreed that we would only do so after making direct eye contact with the driver to maximize safety. Our purpose: To briefly hold Pelosi “hostage” while peacefully and vehemently expressing our strong opposition to Israel's aggressive criminal campaign of extermination in Gaza, shamefully supported by most of our Congress and President Biden.
After we laid down on the pavement just inches from the front of the vehicle, it took about 10 minutes before the SF police officer present could successfully respond, call in for back up and ultimately remove us from the pavement. In that time, CODEPINK activists Susan Witka and Cynthia Papermaster had an extended time to express their outrage with Nancy and point out that the vast majority of Democrats want an immediate ceasefire. Before entering the SUV, dressed with a very large SF 49ers football team scarf draped over her shoulders and chest, Pelosi took a brief pause to point her finger directly at Susan and angrily utter false accusations at us about being Russian and Chinese supporters. This was the most interaction we’ve had from her for the past week. The entire exchange felt very surreal and incongruous, as we thought about the scope of extreme violence being waged against the people of Gaza, while Pelosi trotted off to a 49ers football game.
The two “blockaders” were cited and released with only a petty infraction, "Pedestrian in the road,” and ordered to appear in court by November 29.
Thanks to videographer Peter Menchini for capturing our action:
Throughout the 3rd vigil day, again, the vast majority of pedestrians and drivers exhibited enthusiastic support for our “protest.” Numerous activists joined “Camp Pelosi” in the afternoon, as we continued to engage with pedestrians. We added more chalked messages to the sidewalk, including: "LEGACY of GENOCIDE, We Will Not Forget.” Upon returning in the evening, Nancy Pelosi exited the car and walked over the chalked message “80% of Democrats Support a Ceasefire Now” on her driveway, while we uttered the same message verbally as she entered her garage. Do we live in a democracy when our top politicians don’t uphold the will of the majority of their constituents?
We closed the last day’s vigil with a passionate, loud group singing of “Ceasefire Now,” repeated over and over again, then shared the collective breaking of fast at sunset with delicious treats and a candlelight vigil...sharing our common vision for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel…and planting seeds for a better world.
Many thanks to all who participated! It was a very successful 3 days of action.