Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Two weeks in front of the DNC

The Democrats, despite continually voting to fund the war and occupation of Iraq, love to play the blame game! Here's my account of my weekly action at DNC Headquarters, 430 South Capitol Street, S.E. in D.C. I will continue this action until August, or if Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden (both seen as front-runners for '08)and DNC Chair Howard Dean come out against continued funding before that time.

Last week:

"Are you sure you are in the right place?"

"Go protest the Republicans."

Those are just two of the many comments I received during my first 20 minutes in front of Democratic National Headquarters wedged between South
Capitol and Canal Streets. I responded that I was appealing to the hearts of Democrats, and wished that they would stop spending billions and billions of
dollars on war and occupation. A lot of the staffers there are young and white, and a lot of them looked annoyed that I would dare to critic size
their party. A few gave me quick discrete thumbs-ups. To them I responded: "Tell Howard Dean to listen to Russ Feingold."

I was there for two hours. So, after the first 20 minutes things got a little quite. I imagined there was an office e-mail sent out advising people
not to interact with me. I would only respond when spoken to, and I spoke in a calm welcoming voice, explaining why I was there.

However, a little later an older black office worker asked me, "Why are you here?"

"I used to be a Democrat, but not anymore. But I sincerely hope they listen to their hearts and look into their souls and see that funding this war and
occupation is wrong. They should be spending more on the Gulf Coast, on schools, on the inner cities."

"I agree with you."

"On April 4, 1967 -- exactly one year before his assassination -- Dr. King spoke out against military expenditures and --"

"And Vietnam..."

"He said more should be spent on social uplift."

"Why don't you go straight to the senators' offices? They are not here."

"I will, but Howard Dean has his office here."

"Well, good luck. I agree this war stuff has got to end."

Then there was a group of young Arab women wearing head scarves accompanied by a few young black women. They were part of some tour group and were boarding a small tour bus in front of the headquarters.

"What are you protesting?"

"I am protesting against the Democrats continually funding war and occupation. Billions and billions of dollars are being spent on killing people in another country. More should be done for the poor here at home."

The young black women quickly boarded the tour bus waiting for them, but one nodded at what I was saying.

"What war are you talking about?" Asked the same Arab woman.

"The war and occupation of Iraq. I want there to be peace."

Another Arab woman snapped a photo of me.

And yet another said, "Just don't vote Republican."

"I won't vote for Democrats or Republicans because they both approve of war and occupation." I pointed at the building, "The Democrats still fund war,
they are responsible."

I carried one sign, and I wore my green peace symbol button. It rained lightly, but I stayed for the amount of time I decided on. I did not shout,
and I did not get angry. Personally, I am glad I was able to remain so calm and peaceful.

I will continue to protest against war and occupation in front of the DNC, at least once a week through the end of the summer. I will also occasionally walk the halls of the senate buildings with anti-war signs. All people dedicated to peace and justice are invited to join me.


This week:

There was less dialogue than last week when I went to the DNC, but there still was some. I must have been asked a dozen times why I was there instead of the RNC... It is so obvious how the Dems just love to say "Look, the boogeyman" and point the finger and Repubs. But they fail to take any responsibility for the billions and billions and billions of dollars they keep approving -- of our tax dollars -- for war and occupation.

My sign today had two sides. One side read "Seek Peace." The other side read "Stop funding war and occupation." It was clear what I was trying to get
across -- that the Dems have helped fund the horribly immoral and illegal war and occupation of Iraq, and may do so again with Iran!

One middle-aged white woman actually had a short conversation with me. It started off as the usual...

"Maybe you should be at the Republicans headquarters."

"Well, the Democrats continually fund the war and occupation. Only one senator has spoken out strongly and consistently against the war and occupation -- Russ Feingold."

She nodded and looked at my sign. "I know."

"I could go to the Republicans, but maybe I am naive enough to believe that my message will have more impact here."

"That's probably so."

"I hope so. I am from D.C. and more than 20 schools are going to be closed this year... And yet we can continue to come up with billions for war and
destruction of another land."

"Yes, I know. I think most of the staffers here agree with you," she said. And then she walked away, entering a side door of the building.

Then about 10 minutes later the fire alarm sounded inside the building, and so almost all the staffers came pouring out the main doors. I stood where
they pretty much had to notice my sign. They all read it, but no one responded to me. I smiled, and some just grinned at me smugly and then turned away.

One black man said to me, "Hey man, are you in the military?"

"No, but I know a few people who are. And I know a couple parents whose children were killed in Iraq."

He just sort of nodded, and didn't respond further. I wish I had more copies of the AFSC's ten reasons why the U.S. military should leave Iraq. I only
had one on me. I wanted to interact with him further. But it was a tense moment, he didn't really know what to say to me, and I was unsure how I should present my case to him.

After about 20 minutes the crowd, the majority being in their mid to late 20s, filed back into the building. A small group remained outside and
chatted about the process of taking credit card numbers from donors over the phone. It kind of made me sick to my stomach. It was all about making money
and more money for the party. One of the young women in this group just sort of glared at me, and I just smiled and kept on picketing.

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