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My friend Eve, 76, does time for peace

First appeared on OpEd News on Nov. 5th

By Pete Perry

I first met Eve Tetaz over a year ago on September 26, 2006. On that day, we were both being detained by the Capitol Hill Police after nonviolent direct actions on Capitol Hill against the illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq. Three groups were arrested that day on Capitol Hill as we attempted to meet with our senators, and deliver a coffin with pictures of those killed in Iraq to the steps of the Capitol Building.

Eve was with the group who attempted to deliver the coffin to the steps of the west side of the Capitol, the side facing the mall. The police repeatedly stopped her group that day. The first police line they encountered was when they crossed Constitution Avenue, and were warned that they were violating a permit by crossing the street from where a morning rally had been held. Then her somber and mournful group was stopped twice more on the west lawn. During the third attempt by the police to turn back a group of peaceful protesters simply wishing to express their complete opposition to the war and occupation in Iraq, Eve was shoved and fell to the ground where she bumped her head.

I recall her during our detainment, as the police tended to a large knot that had grown on her head. She was serene and pleasant during the several hours we were held in a garage in southwest Washington. The rest of us watched and remarked at how horrible her treatment had been.

It was unconscionable that a senior citizen of slight build who was nonviolently protesting an illegal and immoral war had been treated in such a manner. Some of us hoped she would press civil charges against the arresting officers. It was not until later that day we learned the police had offered to take her to a hospital emergency room, but Eve calmly declined the offer. She did not want to be separated from the rest of us, and it seemed as if she did not want special treatment, despite her injury. A couple police officers even apologized to her, and she engaged them in a friendly conversation in return.

The next day she returned with a group, including priests and Catholic Workers, to the front of the Rayburn House Office Building where a nonviolent die-in occurred. She was held overnight with a couple others this time, as she was a repeat offender, two days in a row. During her arraignment D.C. Magistrate Judge McCarthy called her a “habitual” with a slight smile on his face.

I wonder why more of us won’t pursue some measure of self-sacrifice in order to intensify the resistance to evil policies pursued by the government, which we fund through tax dollars? I also contemplate my own unwillingness to fully follow Eve’s example. Are we OK with the state of affairs in our nation, and the way it behaves in the world? Or are we completely pacified by our creature comforts, and are simply afraid to rock the boat?

Monday she will report to D.C. Superior Court in order to begin her seven-day jail sentence. In court on Friday, she refused to pay fines stemming from two of her protest actions. She has been arrested 10 times this year, and she is now refusing to pay all fines.

The times she has been arrested this year:

∑ Eve was arrested with 88 others inside the Federal Courthouse in D.C. on January 11th (marking five years that Guantanamo has been holding “detainees” as enemy combatants).
∑ She was arrested inside Senator McCain’s office, with nine others, pleading he turn away from warmongering and pursue peace.
∑ Eve was arrested inside the Hart Senate Office Building, with six others; a graveyard was erected and they read names of those killed during the war in Iraq.
∑ She was arrested with 221 others on a bitterly cold night in front of the White House, as part of the Christian Peace Witness.
∑ Eve was arrested with three others in the hallway immediately outside of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. They were singing songs of peace and urging the congressional leader to vote against any further war funding.
∑ Following a march from the federal courthouse, where the defendants from the January 11th action had their case dismissed, Eve was arrested with 13 others dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods. They chained themselves to the White House fence. They demanded the unconstitutional detentions in Guantanamo cease, and that habeas corpus be restored.
∑ Eve, along with 32 others on the day after Mother’s Day, were arrested in the middle of the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and Independence Avenue. She knelt on the pavement praying for peace as she was arrested.
∑ In July, she was arrested twice while wearing sackcloth and doused with ashes – ancient symbols of mourning. She said she was representing “Rachel mourning for her children because they were no more.” The first arrest action was in front of the White House, and within a couple hours the Park Police released her. Friends met her and they walked to Capitol Hill where she violated a stay away order. She was arrested after entering the Hart Building, and requested a meeting with Senator Hillary Clinton. She has since sent the New York senator a letter concerning the illegal and immoral war and occupation in Iraq and continues to wait for a response.
∑ During a visit to the Pentagon with a group of Catholic Workers, Eve was arrested with three others while trying to grow nutritious vegetables on land defiled by policies of death and destruction.

These are some of Eve’s actions this year. She said once she gets out of jail, she’ll resume her peace mongering, until “nations study war no more.” When she is released next weekend, she has vowed to continue doing what she has been faithfully doing for over a year now because approximately 1 million Iraqis have lost their lives, as well as 3,850 Americans in combat. These Americans were sent to a war based on lies. In addition millions of Iraqis and Afghanis have been displaced from their homes, and hundreds – perhaps thousands – of men are held in Guantanamo and several secret prisons around the world with no access to legal representation and no formal charges being brought against them. Meanwhile, a new attorney general is expected to be confirmed whom won’t answer a simple question about what he thinks is or is not torture.

On Monday I met Eve for breakfast before she began her sentence, she said she is becoming more committed than ever in her journey to end a horribly destructive policy of endless war.

~Pete Perry is a Washington, D.C. native and peace and justice activist. In addition to being Eve’s appointed cat-sitter and bird feeder, he serves on the board of the Washington Peace Center.

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