Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sen. Barbara Mikulski Has Her Own Constituents Arrested

Nonviolent Maryland citizens protesting Iraq War are taken away by Capitol Police; Senator continues to support war funding

Washington, D.C. - At 6:05pm today, Sen. Barbara Mikulski had Capitol Police arrest four of her own constituents when they refused to leave her office. The four were part of a group of 20 that nonviolently occupied Sen. Mikulski’s office for three hours that afternoon, reading the names of Iraqi and American dead in a memorial to those killed, and in a plea to Sen. Mikulski to stop voting for continued war funding.

Sen. Mikulski has refused repeated requests to meet with the Maryland groups opposing the war, and has said that she will continue to vote for funding for the Iraq war even while she claims to oppose it. She has also called President Bush, whose war plan the Senator is fully funding, a "reckless and dangerous" man.

The ceremony was a moving one for the participants, and started with a reading of the names of the 55 Marylanders who have been killed in the Iraq War. A gong was rung softly after each name, and their picture taped to the walls of the Senate office, where they stayed for three hours. Capitol Police and the Sen. Mikulski’s staffers also joined the protesters in a moment of silence for those who had died in the war, before clearing the office and arresting those who refused to go.

The four arrested had the following comments as they were taken away in handcuffs by police -

Kristen Sundell, 34, of Baltimore, MD: "We will continue to call on Sen. Mikulski to support our troops and the Iraqi people by voting against the supplemental war budget, and using her power to help end this war."

Steve Lane, 66, of Bethesda, MD: "Being arrested is a small price to pay to stand up and oppose this illegal and immoral war in Iraq."

Jean Athey, 61, of Brookville, MD: "We read names of American and Iraqi dead for three hours, and we didn’t even make a dent in the list. When is the killing going to stop?"

Peter Perry, 37, of Derwood, MD: "We plead with Sen. Mikulski to do the right thing, to stop being an accomplice to this horrible war and to vote against its continued funding."

The groups involved vowed to return, and are currently planning additional nonviolent actions at Mikulski’s offices in the coming weeks.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Impeachment is on the table!

The Washington Peace Center Hosts a Discussion on Investigations of Bush-Cheney and the Process of Impeachment

Friday, March 9th, 6:30 PM, St. Stephen Episcopal Church,
16th and Newton Streets, NW
(Nearest Metro is Columbia Heights)

Featured Panel will Include ~

* Congresswoman Liz Holtzman (NY) who served on the Impeachment Panel during Richard Nixon and author of the book "The Impeachment of George W. Bush"

* David Swanson: Former Dennis Kucinich campaign staffer, national board member of Progressive Democrats of America and co-founder of Afterdowningstreet.org

* John Judge: Director of CHOICES, fomer staffer of Rep. Cynthia McKinney and co-author of legislation to pursue articles of impeachment against President Bush.

* And moderated by Pete Perry: Coordinator of the Washington Peace Center, a former reporter and staff assistant to the late Sen. Paul Wellstone

Friday, February 16, 2007

Action at Sen. Mikulski's Office


This was a great action, and I think next time we will be staying longer. We might utilize waves of protestors to lengthen it. I am very proud to be taking part in The Occupation project! Indeed, the most efficient way to end this quagmire in Iraq is to cut off funds. And the best way to support our troops is to get them out of the quagmire and bring them home now.

THe incident between Kevin Z. and Ms. Schwarts was unfortunate, but it's not as bad as this story makes it out to be. Also, Kevin's son got some excellent video footage of our little occupation.

Maryland Protesters Demand Mikulski's 'NO' Vote on War Funding

By HALLIE C. FALQUET, Capital News Service

WASHINGTON - Maryland protesters stood shoulder to shoulder in Sen. Barbara Mikulski's Washington office Thursday morning for an hour and a half, reading out loud the names of both Maryland and Iraqi fallen soldiers.

"Sen. Mikulski's heart is in the right place," said Mary Parker of Mt. Rainier with tears in her eyes, "but while Congress is figuring out what to do, Iraqis and Marylanders are dying...I know that hurts her (Mikulski)."

The anti-war protesters read to a sympathetic ear, for the Maryland Democrat not only voted against the war in 2002 and opposes the president's call to increase the number of troops in Iraq, but before spending her days in a Senate office, she was on the streets of Baltimore as a community activist.

That record is not enough for the vocal group of constituents -- they demanded that Mikulski vote against the supplemental budget and additional funding for the Iraq war.

President Bush will present the supplemental spending bill to Congress in February to garner more funds for the troops in Iraq.

Groups like the Montgomery Branch of Peace Action, the primary organizer of Thursday's protest, want to stopper funding for the war as a means to bringing American troops home as soon as possible.

"Support our troops, bring them home," said activist Pete Perry of Derwood, his voice heavy with emotion, as he placed a tiny, green toy soldier on the reception desk in front of Mikulski's communications director, Melissa Schwartz.

As of Feb. 10, 55 Maryland soldiers died in the Iraq war, according to the United States Department of Defense.

While the senator was not present during the protest because she had to attend previously scheduled events, Mikulski made clear through Schwartz that police should not be called to evict the group, even when tensions escalated to the point that Schwartz fled the office.

"Will the senator vote yes or no on the supplemental budget?" former senatorial candidate and protest leader Kevin Zeese demanded to know, stepping closer to Schwartz in the already crowded space that separated them.

"Are you avoiding the question?" he said, louder.

Schwartz, who up to this point had politely heard out the unexpected guests, slipped by Zeese to leave the office when he pushed her in an apparent attempt to make her stay and answer the question, a move that fellow organizer Gordon Clark later apologized for.

"We may disagree, but that is totally inappropriate behavior," Clark said to an appreciative Schwartz.

Schwartz did not answer the question posed to her by Zeese because the supplemental budget is not a formal bill yet.

"How can she (Mikulski) have an opinion on something that doesn't exist?" Schwartz asked. "When the bill does exist, she will speak on it."

For protesters like Clark, though, that answer doesn't suffice.

"She doesn't understand what the supplemental budget is?" he asked, "What else does she need to find out?"

Although the activists did not meet with Mikulski Thursday, they left satisfied that they made their point and with plans to come back the week of Feb. 26.

"We are very, very proud of our ability to make an impression and send a message to our senator and to remember the dead of the war," Clark said.

"Maybe if she had the names of the Marylanders dying in the war read in her office every day she'd think differently about voting to continue funding it."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Occupying Sen. Mikulski's Office

info@PeaceActionMC.org

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

Washington, D.C:

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

www.PeaceActionMC.org

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Trial of Declaration of Peace Activists


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 13, 2007
CONTACT: Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund (301) 565-4050, ext. 307 (office), (301) 537-8244 (mobile)

Iraq War to be put on trial in Washington, DC along with
Non-violent Peace Activists on Valentine’s Day

WHO: Over 50 religious and secular peace activists arrested on Capitol Hill last September for acts of non-violent civil resistance to the war in Iraq

WHAT: Trial on charges of Unlawful Assembly and Crossing a Police Line

WHERE: District of Columbia Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave., NW, Washington, DC

WHEN: Valentine’s Day – Wednesday, February 14, 9:00 a.m.

BACKGROUND: On September 26 and 27, 2006, hundreds of non-violent protesters converged on Capitol Hill to bear witness to their opposition to the US occupation of Iraq. The protests were organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance as part of a nationally coordinated campaign called the Declaration of Peace, in which thousands of people around the country participated in dozens of non-violent actions against the war. The defendants in Wednesday’s trial are being tried by the government on charges of unlawful assembly in the Hart Senate Office Building and crossing a police line in several other actions on Capitol Hill over the two days of actions targeting Congress, and face possible jail time and fines if convicted.

It is significant that the government had chosen a mass trial of so many defendants, with at least two different legal charges and at least four different arrest scenarios, though just yesterday, a prosecutor disclosed that the plan is to try each defendant individually. The pro se defendants will move for dismissal of the government’s charges.

While coincidental, the timing of the trial is also noteworthy, in that the new Congress is debating legislation on Iraq this week, and activists around the country are conducting and planning sit-ins in congressional offices to demand that Congress stop funding the war and occupation of Iraq. This new initiative, dubbed the Occupation Project, kicked off last week with a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s Capitol Hill office and in congressional offices around the country. Maryland activists plan a sit-in at Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office (503 Hart Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave. and 2nd St., NE) this Thursday, February 15 at 10:30 am.

For more information, including a photo gallery of the actions in DC where the arrests occurred last September, please see http://declarationofpeace.org/, and also http://iraqpledge.org/

For more information on the Occupation Project, including photos and video footage of sit-ins at congressional offices, please see http://vcnv.org/

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Occupation Project Began this Week!

For more information, please check out www.vcnv.org. Here is a CNN report on Monday's action:

Monday, February 05, 2007 Ten protesters arrested in McCain's office from Alexander Mooney--> WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Capitol Police arrested 10 anti-war protestors in Sen. John McCain's Capitol Hill office Monday, police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider tells CNN. The protestors, members of the anti-war organization "Code Pink," said the demonstration was one of more than two dozen similar protests held across the country on Monday. The group said more protests were planned targeting congressional offices in the coming months. The demonstrations were held Monday to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the U.N. speech delivered by former Secretary of State Colin Powell outlining the threat Iraq posed to the world because of its weapons of mass destruction programs, according to a press release issued by the organization. The demonstration in McCain's office was peaceful and no one was injured. Last week six members from the group were arrested outside Sen. Hillary Clinton's, D- New York, Capitol Hill office.