Posted by CODEPINK Staff
By Janet Weil
The American Autumn finally arrived. Like many codepinkers all over the country, I have asked myself: how long will it take before Americans rise up and speak out, as our brothers and sisters in the Arab Spring have been doing so bravely? How long will we accept endless wars, militarism as foreign policy, corruption from corporations and government, and environmental degradation -- without large and loud public protests?!
Little did I imagine that the spark for those protests would come from a Canadian satire magazine, Adbusters. Still less did I imagine that the protests would take the form of encampments, not only in the unlikely spot of Zucotti Park in downtown New York City, but in plazas, parks and city squares all over the US! The verb “occupy” has become a global meme, seizing people’s imaginations and spurring them (us) to take action in physical space and real time, at home. To me, it seems a 21st-century version of the old hippie slogan: “Be here now.” After the horrors of US occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, these occupations, often called “occu-pies”, are 24/7 demonstrations of people trying to create the world we want to see, speaking out AGAINST war and economic injustice, and FOR our own humanity.
I was amused, looking back at the July-August Roseroots Report, that I did not have one word predicting this new movement, though the long-planned “Stop the Machine” gathering in DC was a clue. I am very moved to read and hear from codepinkers all over the country, contributing in many ways to the Occupy movement, and I included tips based on YOUR actions in this guide.
Of course, our work in the 6 national campaigns continues, as well as local work on local issues around counter-recruitment, immigrant rights, environmental issues, women’s visibility in media and more. The colorful creativity in our CODEPINK network never ceases to amaze and delight me. Here’s a sampling from September and October.
The school year started, and with it the St Mary’s College weekly peace vigil at the peace pole and some photos for the “Make [ ] Not War” project.
Whistleblower and political prisoner Bradley Manning got support from locals in Hayward, CA and Salinas, KS as part of a nationwide awareness and fundraising campaign.
The 10th anniversary of 9/11 was an occasion to gather and rededicate ourselves to peace, with our friends and allies. The Walk for Peace on the Golden Gate Bridge with pre- and post-rallies was a huge success. There were CODEPINK commemorations elsewhere in California, NYC and Maine
Of course, September 11 has other meanings in other countries, and for the Japanese CODEPINKers it was a somber day of remembering the 6-month anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and pledging to work to end nuclear power and weapons.
At the Military Industrial Complex at 50 conference in Virginia, codepinkers Lisa Savage and Ann Wright represented us, did trainings, and took Make [ ] Not War photos.
CODEPINK NYC has been part of Occupy Wall Street since before it even began on September 17. The Arts and Culture Committee of the General Assembly of NY staged creative actions on Wall Street every lunch hour in the week leading up to the mass occupation and encampment at Liberty Plaza. CODEPINK NYC joined to Make Yoga not War -- we even brought Marie Antoinette back from the dead, bearing cake for the rich!
The very active LA-area local, with able leadership from Kristen Ess Schurr, gave support to Arlington West’s beach display and challenged Obama at one of his many California fundraisers for his re-election.
By early in the month, the Occupy movement had clearly taken hold, despite police raids, logistics difficulties, mainstream media scorn, and other challenges. Just 3 reports from locals, of the many received, highlight some of the ways CODEPINK is giving support for the Occupy movement, and also receiving inspiration and fresh energy!
Corla Coles of Southern California recounts her experiences: “Occupy Riverside, CA has been occupying downtown mall next to City Hall since Oct. 15. No camping, no tents, no sleeping allowed, still occupying 24/7. … Small group, about 100 - 150. My daughter, Eileen; a VFP Navy Vet Vickie; a pink sister, Maureen; and myself are cookin' up Peace, a couple times a week for 100, and attending GA's as time allows. … BIG money is trying to get us kicked off the mall. Many successes! We have stopped the foreclosure on an 88-year-old WWII Vet, marched on Wal-Mart and Chase banks, and will join with a General Strike November 2 shutting down Riverside. I had a spot on local radio, KCAA Political Hour.”
Deidra Lynch-Cricks of Florida has this story of harassment and hope: “After a rainy night in Orlando, OPD turned sprinklers on Occupy Orlando, soaking many of their supplies. Their public call on Facebook this morning: “We need occupiers! Preserve the 1st Amendment - call our elected officials and demand that we be afforded our freedom to peaceably assemble!” …I'm sure that every city is feeling this way. Our pastor from the Unitarian Church is heading down now with others from the congregation to lend support. Another friend is teaching a class on “Community Building, Compassion, and Creativity” this afternoon and again tomorrow which I plan on helping to facilitate. … I pray that the momentum continues, the weak become strong and the foundations of corruption be demolished.”
Elsa Rassbach reports from Berlin: “At the Occupy Wall Street demo on Saturday we brought a big pink banner on NATO with CODEPINK Germany on it. The demo on Saturday brought back so much hope after the very disappointing demo on October 8 on the 10th anniversary of the US/NATO war against Afghanistan. The feeling here now (just since last week!) reminds me so much of when I was student in Berlin in 1965, and the German students were inspired by the Free Speech movement in Berkeley.”
Please read Tucson CODEPINKer Mary DeCamp’s stirring blog post here. And to see and hear why women are “occupying”, check out Lisa Savage’s short videos here and here.
The shocking police violence at Occupy Oakland on October 25-26, including the military-style early morning demolition of the encampment, the shooting of young veteran Scott Olsen in a protest that evening, and the ongoing tear gassing, shooting of so-called “less lethal” projectiles, and beatings throughout the evening, led to global actions of protest and support. In the Bay Area, the always active SF and East Bay locals attended General Assemblies in Oakland and SF; helped avert a police raid on Occupy SF on October 26; and gave material and spiritual support leading up and through the historic General Strike in Oakland on November 2.
The Bring Our War $$ Home campaign got a major boost from the 30-day Care-A-Van project by BOW$H folks in Maine. On October 6, it culminated at UMaine Augusta, the 5th campus that the Care-a-van visited (also Unity, Bowdoin, UMaine Farmington and UMaine Orono). Hundreds of students leafleted. Care-a-van also visited concerts, films, #OccupyMaine. The finale observed Indigenous People's Day with an emphasis on environmental stewardship.
On October 9, CODEPINK joined the Nevada Desert Experience and Las Vegas Catholic Workers protesting nukes at the Nevada Test Site and drones at Creech AFB. Two hundred people stood in vigil at the gate of Creech, the largest US antidrone protest to date.
For news about our ongoing Boycott Ahava/Stolen Beauty campaign, please see this. This is CODEPINK’s contribution to the global BDS campaign, and part of the resistance movement to the US-backed Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The Hands Off Wikileaks/Support Bradley Manning campaign got a boost recently from Michael Moore in NYC. NYC organizer Melanie Butler has also slept in the Wikileaks truck at Occupy Wall Street!
The Accountability/Arrest War Criminals campaign has been very busy the past few months, with protests of war criminals Bush’s, Rove’s, Rice’s and Rumsfeld's books. CODEPINKers have moved these braggarts’ “literary” products to crime or other sections in local (book)stores, and bird-dogged them in public events! For more, see this and as an example of local action in Dallas, click here.
Our new Occupy Wall Street campaign , with its much needed Women Occupy section has fired up our folks! The Day of Action on Saturday, October 15, garnered a LOT of CODEPINK action, from East Coast -- Columbia, South Carolina to “Third Coast” -- Houston, TX to “Left Coast” --Sacramento, CA.
CODEPINK welcomes Eve Birch, of Martinsburg, WV, a librarian whose remarkable adventure of living off the grid was highlighted on NPR. We also welcome (back) Chelsea Byers, a student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, who continues the CODEPINK work she began as an intern in late January as a campus-based local coordinator!
Melanie Butler’s great writing on Occupy Wall Street has been published here and here among other media outlets. C.J. Minster has gotten married; we wish her and her husband much happiness. Rae Abileah was an honored speaker at the ThoughtWorks convention in Brazil in late October.
I’ll close with this quote from new codepink coordinator Eve Birch: "The American dream I believe in now is a shared one. It's not so much about what I can get for myself; it's about how we can all get together."