Marylanders Occupy Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s Washington Office
Activists read the names of Maryland and Iraqi Dead, Call for Her to Stop Funding the War
Twenty Maryland residents occupied Senator Barbara Mikulski’s Hart Senate Building office in protest over her refusal to use Congress’s power of the purse to end the occupation of Iraq. During the occupation, which filled her office, lasted almost two hours and ended without arrest, the nonviolent activists read names of American and Iraqi war dead, and held a banner saying "Not One More Dollar. Not One More Life." Numerous Maryland press outlets covered the event.
Representatives of Maryland peace groups have met numerous times over the past three years with Senator Mikulski and with her staff, asking that the senator back up her stated opposition to the war in Iraq by voting against the funding for it. Senator Mikulski has always refused, and she has voted for every dollar that has been spent in Iraq.
Her aides have previously said that she will vote in favor of the latest Administration request for funds that will add another $93.4 billion to the war, although when asked during the occupation her press secretary simply noted during the action that the Senator "had not seen the appropriation request yet." The activists, who organized the event in conjunction with the national Occupation Project, made it clear that this was unacceptable.
Kevin Zeese, 51 of Takoma Park, MD, and Green Party candidate for the Maryland Senate seat in 2006, asked for the group "Sen. Mikulski has given over $400 billion, with no strings attached, to someone she describes as ‘reckless and irresponsible.’ What does that make her? Is she going to vote to give him another $100 billion for Bush’s reckless and irresponsible behavior? Is she going to provide the resources to send more troops into an unwinnable quagmire in Iraq?"
The Iraqis and U.S. troops who die daily in Iraq were of primary importance to the protesters, who read their names solemnly during the occupation, tolling a bell with each name.
"Sen. Mikulski does not support the troops," said Kristin Sundell, 34 Outreach Coordinator for the Jubilee USA Network and resident of Baltimore Maryland. "You do not support the troops by sending them back two, three, four and even five times into the middle of a civil war. How can she say she’s supporting the troops?"
Added Gordon Clark, 46, of Silver Spring, MD, "Maybe if the names of the Marylanders killed in this war were read in her office every day, she’d think twice about voting over and over again to continue this war and occupation."
Sen. Mikulski’s press secretary promised to try to secure a meeting with the Senator herself. The activists, who are planning another action for the next week Congress is in session, vowed to return until she changes her position on the funding of the war – many of them prepared to risk arrest if the Senator tries to have them expelled from her office.
PeaceAction Montgomery and Democracy Rising supported the protesters. The action was in solidarity with Voices for Creative Nonviolence's Occupation Project (www.vcnv.org) which is calling for sit-ins in Congressional offices around the nation in February and March. Jean Athey, coordinator of PeaceAction Montgomery, said, "This is the first in a series of protests directed at Maryland legislators who refuse to bring our troops home by defunding the occupation of Iraq. Congress must use its power of the purse if it is to end the war. We want the occupation to come to an end, now."
OUT OF IRAQ NOW NO MORE TORTURE NO WAR ON IRAN
P.O. Box 1653, Olney, MD 20830 Phone: 301-570-0923; fax: 301-570-7033