Friday, June 29, 2007

Eve arrested twice in one day

Senior Woman Protesting War Faces Jail Time

For Immediate Release June 29, 2007
Contact: Pete Perry, 571-271-1313

WASHINGTON – Dressed in the ancient mourning symbols of sackcloth and
ashes, a senior citizen protesting war was arrested twice Friday, and
violated a stay away order.

For the sixth and seventh times this year, Eve Tetaz, 75, a retired
D.C. public schoolteacher was arrested for nonviolently protesting the
illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq. She will be arraigned
in D.C. Superior Court Saturday morning, but it is unknown whether she
will be released or held.

Tetaz, of 17th Street, N.W., was first arrested in front of the White
House in a protest organizers described as a mourning for children
killed in war. The arrest happened at 12:45 p.m. and was conducted by
the U.S. Park Police.

"All life is sacred," Tetaz said. "No one is collateral damage."

Wearing a hand-made burlap dress and shawl and faced smudged with
ashes, Tetaz held one sign inscribed with a passage from the Gospel of
Matthew, "Rachel wept for her children and refused to be comforted
because they were no more."

She was released later that afternoon, and then her and a few friends
continued the anti-war protest on Capitol Hill, violating her stay
away order. After some hesitation and a peaceful discussion, Capitol
Hill Police stationed at the Hart Senate Office Building placed her
under arrest at 5:15 p.m.

"I am unable to comply with these orders, and after careful and
prayerful consideration, have decided to take the initiative by
deciding the circumstances under which I will begin serving my
sentence," Tetaz said. "I am following in the tradition of others.
There are many who have chosen to speak truth to power in this

In May, Tetaz violated a stay away order from the Hart Senate Office
Building, and was arrested as soon as she entered the building with a
group of peace activists. She faces a contempt of court trial on that
matter, and could now face at least a month in jail.

On July 9, Tetaz will again appear in court for a jury trial, stemming
from an earlier protest inside the Hart Senate Office Building in
March. She was arrested along with six others while the Senate
approved $95 billion more in funding for war and occupation of Iraq
and Afghanistan.

A retired teacher for 30 years, Tetaz is the founder of Life Pathways,
a non-profit organization helping single parents become financially
independent and trained in the field of health care. A member of the
Church of the Savior, she has been an advocate for the poor on issues
of economics and social justice.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From my dear friend Eve Tetaz... Risking arrest for peace

Dear Friends
I would like to share with you my decision to participate in a direct
action which will most likely lead to my incarceration for some time.
As a result of my last arrest at the Hart Senate Office Building, I
spent the night in jail and at my arraignment the next day, was
released into 3rd party custody, and ordered to report weekly to pre
trial services. Additionally I must stay away from the entire Capitol
I am unable to comply with these orders, and after careful and
prayerful consideration, have decided to take the initiative by
deciding the circumstances under which I will begin serving my
sentence. I have decided on this course of action I hope that this
action will receive media attention, but I can't be sure that my
arrest would spark any interest on their part, since Paris Hilton
seems to be the main focus of their interest. So be it.
There are many who have chosen to speak truth to power in this
fashion. I think of Rosa Parks, whose action was the result of
carefully planning to insure maximum coverage by the press and media.
It was no accident that she boarded that particular bus and her
refusal to move to the back of the bus was choreographed with as much
care for detail as a theatre performance. I am not saying that I am
another Rosa Parks, but I am known by the courts, by the park police,
the capitol police and the metropolitan police., and I might add, have
been treated with respect by them even as they were hand cuffing me.
On rare occasions, I have even been thanked while all this was
happening. I am therefore hoping that as a "senior citizen whose only
claim to fame is to be known by the criminal justice system, I will
show my horror and grief over the killing and n
Rosa Park's action involved her challenging an unjust and immoral law
that needed to be broken, and, in fact, was later found to be
unconstitutional. My actions violated laws that, in themselves, are
just, but under particular circumstances deserve to be violated
because they are being applied to circumstances involving the right of
individuals to petition this government for a redress of grievances.
Rosa Parks violated an unjust law and the law found her guilty under
its provisions; but justice was not done because the law was unjust. I
violated just laws, and the judge was upholding the law by finding me
guilty. However justice was not done, because the law was not
properly applied, for it was used to violate my right to petition my
government for a redress of grievances.
This action will impact all aspects of my life. Life Pathways, the
organization that I founded over a decade ago, will continue under the
expert leadership of Brenda Richards, our new Executive Director,
Gardenia Brantley, Facilitator, and our dedicated Board of Directors.
Ann and my 102 year old mother, who lived with me for a couple of
years until it became necessary to place her in a nursing home is
now receiving excellent care under the watchful and loving eye of my
sister, Ann. To help you understand why, I am doing this I have
enclosed a copy of my closing statement at my trial. The four
defendants were found guilty of disorderly conduct.

My name is Eve Tetaz, pro se defendant.
My closing argument will support the Defense's claim that the 4
defendants on trial for disturbing the peace are not guilty as
charged. It is true that on March 22, 2007 we attempted to speak with
the Representative or a member of her staff with the intention of
asking Speaker Pelosi to vote against additional funding for the war.
But, Your Honor, the Defense has also proven that in carrying out this
action, we were not guilty of disturbing the peace.
The Defense has shown that prior to March. 22 all of the defendants
made many attempts to speak to President Bush, members of his Cabinet
and various members of Congress, for the purpose of stating their
opposition to the War and the Occupation of Iraq.
On every occasion, we were turned away without being heard. It is
for this reason that we as a group of concerned citizens went to
Representative Pelosi's office to voice our horror and grief over the
needless destruction of life and property caused by the US presence in
In doing so, we were not committing a crime - we were exercising the
right to petition our government for a redress of grievances. Two of
the defendants are residents of the District of Columbia, and do not
have representation in Congress, so they chose to express their
grievances to Congresswoman Pelosi, an elected representative and
Speaker of the House. The U.S. Constitution does not limit the right
to speak freely only to those who are fortunate enough to have
Congressional representation. The right of free speech is a
guarantee enjoyed by everyone. .
Our presence in Speaker Pelosi's office was not a crime, but was
part of a solemn and sacred moment. How could it be otherwise, since
we were all mourning the deaths of thousands of people? No life
should ever be counted as collateral damage. Who is to say that the
life of a man or women who wears the uniform of my country is more
precious that that of an Iraqi child who had the misfortune to get in
the way of a bomb.
It is true that the atmosphere was dramatic and intense and that some
of the protestors were unable to hide their grief and were weeping.
Your Honor, as an educator, I have long been aware of the
effectiveness of the method of "show and tell' in demonstrating a
point. A picture or a simple action is worth more than 1000 words.
After countless fruitless attempts at contacting members of Congress
we believe our presence outside the Speaker's office was showing the
world what democracy looks like by our bringing our petitions directly
to a member of Congress.
The Defense has shown by testimony that rather than engaging in
unlawful assembly, we were assuming a citizen's responsibility for the
actions of our government.
When the government wages an unprovoked, pre-emptive aggressive,
illegal and immoral war on Iraq that has been condemned by
international law and the highest religious authorities - it does so
in our name. When our government sets up a detention facility in
Guantanamo condemned by the whole world, it does so in our name. When
it kidnaps people off t he streets in countries around the world and
furtively transports them to torture facilities in lands that allow
torture, it does so in our name.
Your Honor, we the people declare that the government does not have
the right to speak in our name and that in order to maintain the
ability to be a nation governed by Law, we are obliged to invoke our
right under the Constitution to declare without reservation that this
country to which we pledge allegiance cannot be permitted to commit
these horrific acts in our name.
The prosecution's witnesses have admitted that the group was quiet,
respectful, and non-violent, and did not prevent the free flow of
traffic in the corridor outside the office or prevent the public from
entering the Congresswoman's office. Do not allow the Government to
criminalize our opposition to the war just because our opposition
reflects our grief and is full of emotion. How could it be otherwise?
We were Rachel weeping over her children because they were no more.
It is for this reason that the Court must find us not guilty of the
charge of loud and boisterous behavior, incommoding, preventing people
from entering or exiting the Speaker's office; or committing a breach
of the peace.
Thank you your honor.

Monday, June 25, 2007

TASSC Vigil Reported in Post

Among those arrested in front of the White House for nonviolent resistance was David Barrows, Father Louis Vitale, Father Jerry Zawada, Harold Nelson, Katie Murphy and myself.

Vigil Raises 'Voices Against Terror'

By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 24, 2007; A06

The mock prison cell, the barking dog belonging to another protester, people asking names and ages.

Sister Dianna Ortiz said yesterday that the sights and sounds during a 24-hour vigil and protest at Lafayette Square against torture took her "back to that place" and time -- Guatemala in 1989, when the American nun, then 29, taught Mayan children about human rights.

It took her back to the day she was blindfolded and taken to a prison for reasons she still doesn't know. To an interrogation, cigarettes burned on her breasts, being forced to dance naked, raped repeatedly. Back to hell.

Ortiz escaped within a day as her captors transported her to another prison. But each year on June 23, the United Nations' International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Ortiz is reminded of her ordeal as she leads a vigil in front of the White House.

In 1996, Ortiz founded the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, which brings together survivors and advocates for human rights issues, and she began to travel across the country to tell her story. Participants at this weekend's vigil, the coalition's 10th, included 75 survivors from some of the 150 countries the organization cites for practicing and condoning torture.

"We're not just telling it -- we're reliving it," Ortiz said. "We feel like we are back in our cell."

This year, survivors and activists had a specific mission: demanding the repeal of the Military Commissions Act, which President Bush signed in October. Coalition members say they think the act is unconstitutional, is a severe violation of human rights and essentially legalizes acts of torture, she said.

The act establishes procedures for conducting military investigations and hearings for suspected terrorists and combatants. One of the activists, Ray McGovern, who was a CIA analyst for 27 years, said the act ignores prisoner rights established by the Geneva Conventions and the 1996 U.S. War Crimes Act.

"The act needs to be banned for practical and moral reasons," McGovern told yesterday's crowd. An opponent of the Iraq war, he accused then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in May 2006 of lying about prewar intelligence during the question-and-answer session of a speech in Atlanta.

Some of the vigil participants demonstrated their opposition to what they call the "torture law" through civil disobedience. They stood in front of the White House with protest signs until U.S. Park Police arrested them on charges of violating the terms of their Lafayette Square permit.

Just after noon yesterday, about 100 participants formed a line behind a banner announcing their "voices against terror." Silently, they carried crosses inscribed with the names of the 150 countries -- including the United States -- that they believe commit acts of terrorism.

They proceeded from the shady park, crossed Pennsylvania Avenue and stood on the sidewalk in front of the White House. Sixteen stood silently and refused to leave when asked to by a Park Police officer. Other officers arrived on horses and bicycles and put up yellow police tape as sirens sounded. One officer announced that anyone who did not leave would be arrested. Tourists snapped photos, and other participants watched from the park.

Police gave two more warnings, and the vigil participants began to sing: "We are singing, singing for our world."

As an officer approached the first person to be arrested, protesters added to the song: "We are peaceful, loving people. We are singing, singing for our world." The woman placed her possessions in a plastic bag, and her hands were bound with plastic cuffs. "We are justice-seeking people," the protesters sang.

The 16 arrested people were led to a police van as other protesters applauded, shouted "Thank you" and beat on drums. Organizers said that those arrested were volunteers and that none was a torture survivor. They were charged with failure to obey a lawful order and released after about three hours.

After the arrests, the yellow tape was removed and tourists reclaimed their photo spots in view of the White House.

Ortiz said that the protest and vigil were significant and that her goal is to raise public awareness.

"When I first came back, very few people were speaking out," Ortiz said. The torture survivors in this country "believe that we don't have the right to be silent. We have the moral responsibility to speak the truth."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Adam K. re-discharged and the struggle goes on!

Anti-war Marine receives discharge below honorable

Associated Press
Published June 14, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An Iraq war veteran was kicked out of the Marines with a general discharge after he wore his uniform during an anti-war demonstration, the military announced Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. John Bergman, commanding general of Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans, agreed Monday to give Adam Kokesh a general discharge under honorable conditions, based on a military panel's recommendation.

Kokesh's attorneys argued that their client, a corporal, was not subject to military rules because he is a non-drilling, non-paid member of the Individual Ready Reserve, which consists mainly of those who have left active duty but still have time remaining on their eight-year military obligations.

His reservist service had been scheduled to end next Monday. Kokesh had received an honorable discharge from active duty in November.

He got in trouble after a newspaper published a photograph of him in March with other veterans on a mock patrol.

Mike Lebowitz, an attorney for Kokesh, said he planned to appeal to the Navy Discharge Review Board in Washington, which he described as a step toward getting the case into federal court.

Two other Iraq veterans were contacted by the Marines about their protest activities. "Now that the Marine Corps is going after honorably discharged members, who are in fact civilians, for free speech rights, we are fighting back," Lebowitz said Wednesday. "We are seeking a precedent in federal court."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Adam Kokesh Update: The Fight Goes On

Faces of conflict
Marine Corps challenge anti-war vets

Each summer, it seems, the Iraq War springs another issue for the peace movement to rally around, symbolized by a specific face with a story to tell. In 2005, it was Cindy Sheehan’s loss and her dogged insistence that Bush explain why we invaded Iraq, where she lost her 24-year-old son. In 2006, it was Lieutenant Ehren Watada’s refusal to deploy. This summer, the latest phase of the movement may be epitomized by two more faces: Marine Corporal Adam Kokesh and Marine Sergeant and Boston-chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Liam Madden, both of whom were honorably discharged from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a group of unpaid reservists that can be, but rarely are, called up. The pair learned this past week that the Marine Corps was recommending they receive “other than honorable” discharges as a result of certain aspects of their anti-war activities.

Kokesh’s troubles began after he received an e-mail from an officer that said he was being investigated for wearing a uniform to a “mock combat patrol” earlier this year. The IVAW member responded by saying, among other things, “go fuck yourself.” For that remark, as well as for the clothing infraction, the corps informed Kokesh — who, along with Madden, has been defended by the Veterans of Foreign Wars — that he would be prosecuted. But not before offering him a plea bargain.

Not one to be intimidated, Kokesh turned down the plea and chose instead to travel to Kansas City to appear before a military tribunal on Monday. The board’s official recommendation was that Kokesh receive a general discharge, which is a step below an honorable discharge and allows him to hang on to his benefits. Kokesh says he might appeal the judgment.

Madden, a Boston resident attending Northeastern in September, told the Phoenix that his charges, like Kokesh’s, are two-fold. The first is for wearing a standard-issue camouflage utility top to a protest. The second is for “disloyal statements” the Corps claim he made during a speech in February, when he was not in uniform. “I said that the president has betrayed us service members, that the war in Iraq is a war crime, and that the war in Iraq is a war of aggression,” says Madden. As of yet, no hearing has been scheduled for him.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The new "face" of the anti-war movement is going to Kansas

Yesterday Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War and his attorney held a press conference at Union Station shortly before departing for a military hearing in Kansas. What awaits this brave member of IVAW and the individual ready reserves of the US Marines is a possible re-discharge to "other than honorable." This is unheard of, as the individual ready reserves have typically already been discharged. Why is this being done? Simple: Adam Kokesh has been vocal in his opposition to the war and continuing occupation in Iraq.

At the press conference, Adam quoted Thomas Jefferson: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

So, if the media needs a new "face" of the anti-war movement, let it be Adam. Yesterday he, Tina Richards from the Swarm on Congress and several other supporters boarded the Yellow Rose of Texas Peace bus bound for Kansas. They will fight this assault on veterans' First Amendment rights.

Interestingly enough at the press conference, someone was handing out Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER)'s new proposal. They start off by saying that the anti-war movement is at a crossroads and turning point and stating that we need a new direction, but then it goes on to say we need more of the same. ANSWER, a fading coalition which is now no where big as United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ), is calling for all peace and justice coalitions to unite in yet another major one-day weekend mobilization.

We do not need more of the same. We need more people to assume a little bit of self-sacrifice. If you are going to mobilize -- start doing it on weekdays, shutdown business. Also, we need more willing to risk arrest in continual acts of nonviolent resistance. This is what we need -- the Occupation Project and Code Pink's activities on Capitol Hill were definitely having an impact -- we need more of this, we need more people to participate and be willing to take a risk. We should all be willing to do our part for peace and justice, beyond just marching around in a circle on a Saturday.