Friday, November 23, 2007

Washington Peace Center event next week!

The Washington Peace Center presents...

To Know The Other:
The Human Face of Palestine


Thursday, November 29th, 2007
7:00pm
Martin Luther King Memorial Library
901 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

Nora Buch, a local DC teacher, returned to Washington, DC from Palestine where she taught English at Al Quds University in the West Bank. She lived with Palestinians in the village of Abu Dees where the university is located. Abu Dees was a part of Jerusalem before the construction of the Separation (Apartheid) Wall. During her time in Palestine her understanding of this region deepened. Nora will share her experiences living and working with Palestinians through an interactive presentation with the audience.

This event will mark the commitment by The Washington Peace Center for at least one year, November 29, 2007 to November 29, 2008, to commemorate Al-Nakba, the catastrophe of Palestinian ethnic cleansing and dispossession. This commitment will also involve organizing and supporting events and activities concerning peace with justice in The Middle East.

Please join us in this work!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stop Hate Crimes and Police Violence Concert on the Mall

Today a great Go-go and Hip-hop concert was held on the National Mall. It was organized by the HipHop Caucus and drew attention to the racially-motivated hate crimes happening across the nation. Yes, racism is alive and well in America. It's sad that these heinous and violent hate crimes seem to be happening more frequently. Mentioned were 14-year-old Deonte Rawlings' murder at the hands of police here in D.C., the Jena 6 (Louisiana) injustice and the abominable torture and rape of Megan Williams in West Virginia.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood did a great job as emcee, and there were some excellent D.C. Go-go acts, including TCB. Marine mom Tina Richards was working hard, as she often does and it's good to see her as such a solid working partner with Rev. Yearwood.

The speakers were eloquent, and expressed truly justified outrage at how messed up things are when it comes to how black citizens are viewed by the prevailing power structure. I enjoyed listening to the New Black Panther Party speaker Malik Shabazz who is the attorney for Megan Williams, that was until he uttered one word. It is a hate word. He was saying that black men must defend black women's dignity and honor, and must always show them respect. Which I completely agree with, and thought was really very powerful and truthful. But then he said if they fail to do this, they are nothing but "punks and FAGOTS." It's too bad that he used a word that is essentially the same as the horrible horrible N word. He tried to clarify saying that his use of the word was "political" and not homophobic. But, excuse me, as a straight male saying that -- I think he can understand the implications and how hurtful it can be. Besides that his speech was excellent.

Also, it was disappointing to see so few white folks there. The progressive movement is divided. At this event it was 90% black, and at peace marches, it's about 90% white. How can we seriously address racism in America, if we as progressives continue to divide ourselves along color lines? We must reach out across all barriers!

Megan Williams' story should be known by every single American. It is absolutely horrific. Here is an account of what happened to this 20-year-old woman:

This is an this ugly and outrageous ordeal. Prosecutors said. “Every time they stabbed her, they called her "nigger." Carmen Williams, the mother, told The Charleston Gazette. “She wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, ‘Mommy.’ What’s really, really bad is, we don’t know everything, and they did to her. She is crying all the time.” No doubt, had she not been rescued they were going to kill her and throw her in a nearby lake.

Arrested are: Frankie Brewster, 49, and her son Bobby Brewster, 24., Karen Burton, 46; her daughter Alisha, 23; Danny Combs, 20, and George Messer, 27 –six whites from nearby Logan County, West Virginia. The suspects took turns beating, stabbing, choking and sexually abusing Williams, while consistently threatening her with death, according to criminal complaints. A rope was placed around Williams’ neck, her hair was ripped out and she was made to eat dog and rat feces, drink from a toilet and lick up blood, the complaint charges. At one point, she was sexually assaulted while scalding water and melting hot wax from a candle was poured on her body. At another point she was forced to lick the toes of the sadistic defendants. She was stabbed in the leg at least four times and both of her ankles were cut by a female suspect who allegedly taunted her, saying, “This one is for Kunta Kinte, and that’s what we do to niggers around here.”

“The Megan Williams case is beyond a doubt, one of the worst hate crimes in U.S. History. The Megan Williams case is even worse than the case of the Jena 6”…said Attorney Malik Shabazz Esq., Megan Williams Family Attorney and Spokesman for Black Lawyers For Justice, speaking at the October 3rd preliminary hearing in Logan County, West VA.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kucinich won the debate last night


By John Nichols, The Nation

When it comes to the question of impeachment, the difference between Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden and Department of Peace champion Dennis Kucinich is merely a matter of timing.

Biden says that if George Bush attacks Iran without a formal declaration of war by Congress, the president must be impeached.

Kucinich thinks it would be smarter to act before the bombs start flying.

The distinction was illustrated during Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas when Catherine Jackson, the mother of an Iraq War veteran – Marine Christopher Jackson, who told the audience, "Our troops need to come home now" -- expressed her fear that "members of the Bush administration and neoconservative members of Congress are beating the drums of war again."

Ms. Jackson asked what the candidates what they would do to prevent an attack on Iran.

Biden was especially pointed in his response, saying of the president: "If he takes the country to war in [Iran] without a vote of Congress, which will not exist, then he should be impeached."

Later, when Kucinich addressed the issue, he suggested that it was not enough to talk about holding members of the administration to account after the fighting starts. Noting the established high crimes and misdemeanors of Vice President Dick Cheney – the most outspoken champion of picking a fight with Iran –Kucinich told the crowd the president and vice president are already "out of control."

The Ohio congressman, who earlier this month sought to open a House debate on impeaching Cheney for attempting to provoke a war with Iran, among other transgressions, explained that there is an appropriate and immediate answer to the fears expressed by Ms. Jackson.

"It's called ‘impeachment.' You don't wait. You do it now. Impeach them now," Kucinich declared, over the cheers of the audience.

Among those on their feet and applauding was Catherine Jackson.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We cannot forget Myanmar: UN investigator meets Myanmar prisoners

Nov. 15, 2007, 8:31AM
© 2007 The Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar — A U.N. human rights investigator said he was able to meet with several prominent political prisoners Thursday before ending his five-day mission to Myanmar.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro was sent by the U.N. to investigate allegations of widespread abuse in connection with the ruling junta's bloody September crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

He went to Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, where he was able to talk with several political detainees, including labor activist Su Su Nway, who was arrested Tuesday, he said at a news conference at Yangon's airport.

Pinheiro also met with 77-year-old journalist Win Tin, held since 1989, and members of the 88 Generation Students group, who have been especially active in nonviolent anti-government protests in recent years. Pinheiro did not reveal details of their conversations.

He said he had requested a meeting with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, but it had not been granted by the government.

He added, however, that he was satisfied with the cooperation he had received from the government, and noted that U.N. special envoy for Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari, who visited a week earlier, had been allowed to meet Suu Kyi.

One of Pinheiro's goals had been to determine the numbers of people detained and killed by the regime in the recent unrest. He privately told diplomats Wednesday that no exact number could yet be determined, according to one envoy who asked not to be identified, citing protocol.

The military government said 10 people were killed when troops opened fire on crowds of peaceful protesters on Sept. 26-27. Diplomats and dissidents, however, say the death toll was much higher.

Buddhist monks inspired and led the movement until it was brutally crushed. The authorities began their crackdown by raiding several monasteries in Yangon in the middle of the night and hauling monks away.

The government has acknowledged detaining nearly 3,000 people but says it has released most of them. Many prominent political activists, however, remain in custody.

Pinheiro had also visited Insein Prison on Monday, but was only given access to officials.

Insein has held numerous political prisoners over the years. Many former inmates describe torture, abysmal conditions and long stretches in solitary confinement.

Pinheiro's trip was otherwise dominated by meetings with junta officials. He had been given access to several detention centers in Yangon in addition to Insein, but was not allowed to meet any prisoners.

Despite worldwide criticism, the junta continued its crackdown on dissidents during Pinheiro's visit.

The latest to be detained were three people handing out anti-regime pamphlets Wednesday at a fruit and vegetable market in Yangon, witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared government reprisals.

The incident followed earlier arrests of two prominent dissidents.

Su Su Nway, a prominent activist who had been on the run for more than two months, was arrested Tuesday morning in Yangon as she tried to place a leaflet near a hotel where Pinheiro was staying, said exiled Myanmar dissidents in Thailand.

U Gambira, a monk who helped spearhead the pro-democracy demonstrations in Yangon, was arrested several days ago, said Stanley Aung of the Thailand-based dissident group National League for Democracy-Liberated Area.

Pinheiro said he did not get to meet with U Gambira.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tom Hayden writes Obama about "false polarities" among the Democrats

A well-written piece, and maybe Obama will listen. Hayden is clearly more hopeful about the Dems than I am! I don't think I'll be returning to the party in this lifetime. In addition, I am not convinced that the polarities are false; other progressive Dems should also be abandoning the corporately-controlled party.

An Appeal to Barack Obama
By Tom Hayden

"The Democrats have been stuck in the arguments of Vietnam, which means that either you're a Scoop Jackson Democrat or you're a Tom Hayden Democrat and you're suspicious of any military action. And that's just not my framework." - Sen. Barack Obama.

Barack, I thought Hillary Clinton was known as the Great Triangulator, but you are learning well. The problem with setting up false polarities to position yourself in the "center", however, is that it's unproductive both politically and intellectually.

Politically, it is a mistake because there last time I looked there were a whole lot more "Tom Hayden Democrats" voting in the California primary and, I suspect, around the country, than "'Scoop' Jackson Democrats." In fact, they are your greatest potential base, aside from African-American voters, in a multi-candidate primary.

More disturbing is what happens to the mind by setting up these polarities. To take a "centrist" position, one calculates the equal distance between two "extremes." It doesn't matter if one "extreme" is closer to the truth. All that matters is achieving the equidistance. This means the presumably "extreme" view is prevented from having a fair hearing, which would require abandoning the imaginary center. And it invites the "extreme" to become more "extreme" in order to pull the candidate's thinking in a more progressive direction. The process of substantive thinking is corroded by the priority of political positioning.

I have been enthused by the crowds you draw, by the excitement you instill in my son and daughter-in-law, by the seeds of inspiration you plant in our seven-year old [biracial] kid. I love the alternative American narrative you weave on the stump, one in which once-radical social movements ultimately create a better America step by step. I very much respect your senior advisers like David Axelrod, who figured out a way to elect Harold Washington mayor of Chicago. You are a truly global figure in this age of globalization.

But as the months wear on, I see a problem of the potential being squandered. Hillary Clinton already occupies the political center. John Edwards holds the populist labor/left. And that leaves you with a transcendent vision in search of a constituency.

Your opposition to the Iraq War could have distinguished you, but it became more parsed than pronounced. All the nuance might please the New York Times' Michael Gordon, who helped get us into this madness in the first place, but the slivers of difference appear too narrow for many voters to notice. Clinton's plan, such as it is, amounts to six more years of thousands of American troops in Iraq [at least]. Your proposal is to remove combat troops by mid-2010, while leaving thousands of advisers trying to train a dysfunctional Iraqi army, and adding that you might re-invade to stave off ethnic genocide. Lately, you have said the mission of your residual American force would be more limited than the Clinton proposal. You would commit trainers, for example, only if the Iraqi government engages in reconciliation and abandons sectarian policing. You would not embed American trainers in the crossfire of combat. This nuancing avoids the tough and obvious question of what to do with the sectarian Frankenstein monster we have funded, armed and trained in the Baghdad Interior Ministry. The Jones Commission recently proposed "scrapping" the Iraqi police service. Do you agree? The Center for American Progress, directed by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, is urging that all US troops, including trainers, be redeployed this year. Why do you disagree? Lately you have taken advantage of Hillary Clinton's hawkishness on Iran to oppose bombing that country without Congressional authorization. But you carefully decline to say whether you would support bombing Iran when and if the time comes.

This caution has a history:

- you were against the war in 2002 because it was a "dumb war",
but you had to point out that you were not against all wars, without
exactly saying what wars you favored;

- then you visited Iraq for 36 hours and "could only marvel at
the ability of our government to essentially erect entire cities
within hostile territory";

- then as the quagmire deepened, you cloaked yourself in the
bipartisan mantle of the Baker-Hamilton Study Group, which advocated
leaving thousands of American troops in Iraq to fight terrorism, train
the Iraqis until they "stand up", and sundry other tasks of
occupation;

Perhaps your national security advisers are getting to you when it should be the other way around. Their expertise is not in the politics of primaries. If anything, they reject the of populist peace pressure influencing elite national security decisions. The result is a frustration towards all the Democratic candidates for what the Center for American Progress has recently called "strategic drift." The political result is the danger of returning to John Kerry's muffled message in 2004. The policy result may be a total security disaster for our country, draining our young soldiers' blood and everyone's taxes on the continuing degradation of our national honor in a war which cannot be won.

Just for the record, let me tell you my position on Iraq. I think the only alternative is to begin a global diplomatic peace offensive starting with a commitment to withdraw all our troops as rapidly as possible. That is the only way to engage the world, including the Iraqi factions, in doing something about containing the crises of refugees, reconciliation and reconstruction. It means negotiating with Iran rather than escalating to a broader war. If you want to "turn a new page", it should not be about leaving the Sixties behind. It will be about leaving behind the superpower fantasies of both the neo-conservatives and your humanitarian hawks. And yes, it is to be "suspicious", as Eisenhower and John Kennedy came to be suspicious, of the advice of any Wise Men or security experts who advocated the military occupation of Iraq. Is that position as extreme as your rhetoric assumes?

Your problem, if I may say so out loud, and with all respect, is that the deepest rationale for your running for president is the one that you dare not mention very much, which is that you are an African-American with the possibility of becoming president. The quiet implication of your centrism is that all races can live beyond the present divisions, in the higher reality above the dualities. You may be right. You see the problems Hillary Clinton encounters every time she implies that she wants to shatter all those glass ceilings and empower a woman, a product of the feminist movement, to be president? Same problem. So here's my question: how can you say let's "turn the page" and leave all those Sixties' quarrels behind us if we dare not talk freely in public places about a black man or a woman being president? Doesn't that reveal that on some very deep level that we are not yet ready to "turn the page"?

When you think about it, these should be wonderful choices, not forbidden topics. John Edwards can't be left out either, for his dramatic and, once again, unstated role as yet another reformed white male southerner seeking America's acceptance, like Carter, Clinton and Gore before him. Or Bill Richardson trying to surface the long-neglected national issues of Latinos. I think these all these underlying narratives, of blacks, women, white southerners and la raza - excuse me, Hispanic-Americans - are far more moving, engaging and electorally-important than the dry details of policy.

What I cannot understand is your apparent attempt to sever, or at least distance yourself, from the Sixties generation, though we remain your single greatest supporting constituency. I can understand, I suppose, your need to define yourself as a American rather than a black American, as if some people need to be reassured over and over. I don't know if those people will vote for you.

You were ten years old when the Sixties ended, so it is the formative story of your childhood. The polarizations that you want to transcend today began with life-and-death issues that were imposed on us. No one chose to be "extreme" or "militant" as a lifestyle preference. It was an extreme situation that produced us. On one side were armed segregationists, on the other peaceful black youth. On one side were the destroyers of Vietnam, on the other were those who refused to
submit to orders. On the one side were those keeping women in inferior roles, on the other were those demanding an equal rights amendment. On one side were those injecting chemical poisons into our rivers, soils, air and blood streams, on the other were the defenders of the natural world. On one side were the perpetrators of big money politics, on the other were keepers of the plain democratic tradition. Does anyonebelieve those conflicts are behind us?

I can understand, in my old age, someone wanting to dissociate from the extremes to which some of us were driven by the times. That seems to be the ticket to legitimacy in the theater of the media and cultural gatekeepers. I went through a similar process in 1982 when I ran for the legislature, reassuring voters that I wasn't "the angry young man that I used to be." I won the election, and then the Republicans objected to my being seated anyway! Holding the idea that the opposites of the Sixties were equally extreme or morally equivalent is to risk denying where you came from and what made your opportunities possible. You surely understand that you are one of the finest descendants of the whole Sixties generation, not some hybrid formed by the clashing opposites of that time. We want to be proud of the role we may have played in all you have become, and not be considered baggage to be discarded on your ascent. You recognize this primal truth when you stand on the bridge in Selma, Alabama, basking in the glory of those who were there when you were three years old. But you can't have it both ways, revering the Selma march while trying to "turn the page" on the past.

This brings me back to why you want to stand in the presumed center against the "Tom Hayden Democrats." Are you are equally distant from the "George McGovern Democrats.", and the "Jesse Jackson Democrats"? How about the "Martin Luther King Democrats", the "Cesar Chavez Democrats", the "Gloria Steinem Democrats"? Where does it end?

What about the "Bobby Kennedy Democrats"? I sat listening to you last year at an RFK human rights event in our capital. I was sitting behind Ethel Kennedy and several of her children, all of whom take more progressive stands than anyone currently leading the national Democratic Party. They were applauding you, supporting your candidacy, and trying to persuade me that you were not just another charismatic candidate but the one we have been waiting for.

Will you live up to the standard set by Bobby Kennedy in 1968? He who sat with Cesar Chavez at the breaking of the fast, he who enlisted civil rights and women activists in his crusade, who questioned the Gross National Product as immoral, who dialogued with people like myself about ending the war and poverty? Yes, Bobby appealed to cops and priests and Richard Daley too, but in 1968 he never distanced himself from the dispossessed, the farmworkers, the folksingers, the war resisters, nor the poets of the powerless. He walked among us.

The greatest gift you have been given by history is that as the elected tribune of a revived democracy, you could change America's dismal role in the world. Because of what you so eloquently represent, you could convince the world to give America a new hearing, even a new respect. There are no plazas large enough for the crowds that would listen to your every word, wondering if you are the one the whole world is waiting for. They would not wait for long, of course. But they would passionately want to give you the space to reset the American direction.

What is the risk, after all? If "think globally, act locally" ever made any sense, this is the time, and you are the prophet. If you want to be mainstream, look to the forgotten mainstream. You don't even have to leave the Democratic Party. It's time to renew the best legacy of the Good Neighbor policy of Roosevelt before it dissolved into the Cold War, the Strangelove priesthood, the CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala, the sordid Bay of Pigs, the open graves of Vietnam. It's time to renew the best legacy of the New Deal before it became Neo-Liberalism, and finally achieve the 1948 Democratic vision of national health care.

May you - and Hillary too - live up to the potential, the gift of the past, prepared for you in the dreams not only of our fathers, but of all those generations with hopes of not being forgotten.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eve: I am more committed now than ever

I visited Eve yesterday afternoon -- at her apartment! She got out of the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility at 1:30 PM. Her sister Ann was there to pick her up. Although physically tired, she is in very high spirits. She said she befriended prisoners and guards alike inside.

She said that she is more convinced than ever that violence never accomplishes anything. She listened and shared with all the women inside CTF whom she met. Her first cell mate was a young woman who was apparently in for drugs. She immediately helped Eve make her bed, and was very friendly to her.

Eve was able to get a Bible, but not until Wednesday. She said she did not see any physical violence, but there were many violent words thrown about. She said the guards were kind of like mamas to the the overall young and overwhelmingly black prisoner population. "My sisters in chains" is how Eve described the inmates.

No one treated Eve poorly, although the intake guard gave her a hard time about protesting against the war and occupation of Iraq. She was puzzled as he kept saying "Do you want babies to get blown up!?" Of course she thought, our military is there and lots of babies are getting blown up! She said his anger was coming from his own grief, and he didn't really know what to do with it.

She said prison was like a community to many of the women inside. That's why when they are picked up various crimes (most have to do with drugs) they don't mind it much, because they don't have a community on the outside. So, in a way, and it is very sad, prison has become their home.

Tips Eve gives for going to prison include sharing food (she liked to give away her cookies), and sharing of your time -- don't keep yourself apart from the rest of the population. Also, you must be prepared to not get a whole lot of sleep, because there are loud noises throughout day and night.

Although Eve's sentence was 7 days, it turned out to be about 6 days. We have noticed this before that one day of the trial seems to count toward the sentence.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Anti-war protests heat up the campaign trail


By Mike Ferner

DES MOINES -- A new campaign to place the Iraq war in the center of Iowa's presidential caucus races kicked off in Des Moines yesterday. But as often happens, it wasn't so much the protest that made the story as the reaction to it.

"Seasons Of Discontent--A Presidential Occupation Campaign," or SODAPOP as its organizers dubbed it, targeted the campaigns of Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, taking over their offices in the Iowa state capital and disrupting both campaigns for several hours before a total of 19 people were arrested.

The "law and order" Giuliani campaign waited only about two hours to call on the suburban Clive, Iowa police to arrest 10 activists. The Clinton campaign appeared more reluctant to remove the protesters, waiting almost eight hours before requesting the Des Moines Police Department remove nine activists. The last two hours of the Clinton occupation generated reactions from young staffers that typically send a candidate's damage control unit into overtime, especially when that candidate is trying to appeal to rock-solid Democratic voters.

The nine, along with a handful of supporters, called on Clinton's Ingersoll Ave. office at 1:30pm, telling staffer David Barnhart that they had come for the Senator's response to a letter they had sent her a month earlier, asking her to publicly pledge "to take the necessary concrete steps to end the Iraq war, to rebuild Iraq, to foreswear military attacks on other countries, and to fully fund the Common Good in the U.S."

Barnhart ended a brief exchange with Catholic Peace Ministry director, Brian Terrell by saying, "Look, nobody wants to end the war in Iraq more than Hillary Clinton. We love to hear a diversity of opinion, but we are asking you to leave now."

Ignoring Barnhart's request, the occupiers spent until 8:00pm reading the names of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers killed in the war, taping "End the Iraq War" flyers onto Clinton campaign signs, taking a brief turn calling registered voters to inform them of Clinton's war votes before the phone was disconnected, having limited success engaging staffers and volunteers in discussion, and making enough racket doing so to make it difficult to continue business as usual. In twos and threes throughout the afternoon, all the campaign volunteers and most of the staff departed.

At 6:30, Terrell and Farah Mokhtareizadeh, a 24 year-old peace activist from Philadelphia, followed by two reporters, drove across town to Clinton's Second Street office. Through the building's glass doors they saw a group of about 25 people but found the door locked. First Terrell, and then the reporters, asked to come in. One reporter, told earlier in the day that all statements for the Clinton campaign had to come from press secretary Mark Daly, asked unsuccessfully to speak with him. Staff members ushered the knot of volunteers into an interior room, leaving a half-dozen of their colleagues in the outer area who proceeded to ignore not only Terrell and the reporters, but over the next half hour, more than a dozen volunteers and paid staff, all surprised to see the doors locked and unable to get anyone's attention from inside.

At one point the reporters went to a side window to try and observe what was happening, only to have a large "Hillary" sign placed to block their view. At that, the four drove back to the Ingersoll Avenue office.

Shortly after they returned, Mokhtareizadeh began reading the famous speech that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York, titled "Declaration of Independence from the Vietnam War." The most frequently quoted lines in it are, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death," but it also contains a prophetic warning from the Buddhist leaders of Vietnam.

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat."

Moments after those lines were read, a booming guitar riff thundered from the open door of a work room adjoining the space held by the occupiers, drowning out King's words. Mokhtareizadeh picked up a bullhorn and continued King's speech, overpowering the music.

Shortly thereafter, the decible battle ended in success for the occupiers and King's speech continued at a humane level. A reporter went to the office from which the music had emanated and asked the staff member if he wanted to give a statement about the odd juxtaposition posed by a speech of Martin Luther King's being drowned out in a prominent Democrat's Iowa campaign headquarters. The unidentified staff member declined and referred the reporter to Mr. Daly.

At the conclusion of the King speech, Robert Braam, a 51 year-old cabinetmaker from Manhattan, Illinois took up reading the names of Iraqis killed in the war until through the main door strode an assertive, middle-aged woman who went about the office introducing herself with a firm handshake to every protester, as Teresa Vilman of the Hillary Clinton campaign. "I'll give you three minutes to leave and then I'll call the police," she said, smiling, "which I guess is what you want anyway."

With that, Vilman directed the remaining staffers to take down the numerous "End the Iraq War" flyers and remove all traces of the occupation. She cheerily asked the protesters, "If you don't mind, would you please take the empty water bottles with you?"

No one objected to her request, but David Goodner, a senior at the University of Iowa, retorted, "If you don't mind, would you please get Mrs. Clinton on the phone for us?" And Des Moines resident, Mona Shaw, 56, added, "And if she doesn't mind, ask her to keep from invading Iran."

Within minutes, five police cars and over a dozen officers began rolling into the campaign office's parking lot. At Captain Bob Clock's request, Vilman went up to every activist and the reporters, asking each to leave. Supporters of the occupiers who did not intend to be arrested, and the reporters exited the office. Not long afterward, Des Moines police officers led nine handcuffed occupiers out of the Hillary Clinton campaign office and into a waiting paddy wagon. The ninth was Mokhtareizadeh, who, throughout the day was not planning on being among the arrestees. As she returned inside the office to submit to the police, she said, "After reading that whole speech from Dr. King, I just had to get arrested with the others."

The other SODAPOPers arrested at the Clinton campaign office were Renee Espeland, 46, a Des Moines chimney sweep; Chris Gaunt, 51, a third-generation Iowa farmer from Grinnell; and Chrissy Kirchoefer, 30, from Marseilles Illinois.

They were joined in the Polk County Jail by the ten arrested at Giuliani's Iowa headquarters, Kathy Kelly, Co-director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Chicago; Suzanne Sheridan 31, photo assistant and artist model, Francis of Assisi Catholic Worker House in Chicago; Ron Durham, 26, bike repair and handyman, Francis of Assisi House, Chicago; Elton Davis, 45, proprietor of Sweet Bee Infoshop, Des Moines; Ed Bloomer, 60, Dingman Catholic Worker House, Des Moines; Joy First, 53, of Madison, Wisconsin; Nick Kinkel, 19, Des Moines; Mickey Davis, 16, Waukee, Iowa; Jeff Leys, 43, and Dan Pearson, 26, both Co-directors of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Chicago.

Organizers say the protests in Iowa will continue, with more occupations slated for December 29 to January 3, 2008 as the caucuses take place. They hope peace activists will generate similar actions in other states as the presidential primary season develops, and challenge candidates "as they make public appearances around the state without regard for arbitrary 'free speech zone' restrictions that may be established by candidates, parties, police or the Secret Service."

###
Ferner is a freelance writer from Ohio and author of "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq."

Friday, November 09, 2007

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.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Report on Eve


From Eve's sister Ann:

Thanks, everybody for your concern and good wishes. Here's what I know at4:15 PM on Tues Nov 6.

Jack Barringer, one of her lawyers, visited Eve a few hours ago. She was very tired but in good spirits. She didn't get to the jail until 5 PM and the "processing" (like a meat grinder) wasn't over until 4 AM. Her cell mate helped her make up her bunk and has been very nice to her. Eve told Jack : "I'm more committed now than I was when I got here." Remarkable!

Her visiting day is (was) yesterday. That means those of us who are not lawyers can't visit. She CAN make collect phone calls, so if you get a collect call from CTF (the privately run correctional facility that's holding her) it's Eve.

I will let you know if I hear more details. Jack thinks she won't be released until the weekend or perhaps Monday. He's going to visit her again later in the week.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Eve Tetaz's statement on her jail sentence


By Eve Tetaz

Dear Friends,
As I begin my 7 day sentence in DC Jail for peacefully and non- violently protesting the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, I wish to appeal to the American people to join together as one voice in opposing the illegal and immoral actions of our leaders whom we have elected to act in our name. We are a nation of law governed by the Constitution that begins with the words “We the people…” When our leaders betray our trust by committing crimes against humanity in the waging of a war that has been condemned by international law, the highest religious authorities, and members of our own military, I believe that we must declare before the world, NOT IN MY NAME. When the government advocates the use of such tactics as rendition and torture to further their ends, we must shout, NOT IN MY NAME. As a nation made up of responsible individuals capable of making moral choices, we are obliged to admit our wrong doings in order that justice be served, and our credibility among other nations be maintained. When our leaders cease to reflect the principles upon which this country was founded, I believe it to be the duty of every American citizen to peacefully and non-violently refuse to submit to their authority, in a manner that he or she deems appropriate. I am reminded of Moses when he challenged the Children of Israel to act as moral beings and be held accountable for their actions.
I have set before you today life and death, blessings and curses.
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…

My friends, today I have chosen life in the hope that my country will change course and turn from a path that will only lead to death and destruction; it is my earnest prayer that this nation will, instead, lead the way in teaching nations to turn their swords into plowshares and study war no more.
Eve Tetaz
November 5, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

Eve Tetaz Sentenced to 7 Days for Peaceful Protests

Contact:
Malachy Kilbride, 202-841-2230
Eve Tetaz, 202-332-0599 November 2, 2007

WASHINGTON – Eve Tetaz, a retired D.C. public schoolteacher, was sentenced Friday to seven days in jail, because of her continuing protests and nonviolent resistance against the war and occupation of Iraq.

Shortly before 5 p.m., D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Marisa Demeo sentenced the peace activist and Adams Morgan resident to seven days in D.C. Jail, but delayed the beginning of the sentencing period until Monday. Tetaz, 76, could not begin her sentence Friday because the court was already beginning to close at 5, and there were no longer any U.S. Marshals available to begin processing her.

“As a former teacher, I believe that a picture or simple action is worth more than a thousand words,” Tetaz said in her sentencing statement, explaining her protests on Capitol Hill and the White House. “I will continue to do what I am doing.”

Tetaz faced four charges stemming from two different protests, but government prosecutors decided to drop one charge. The peace activist plead no contest to two charges of failure to obey a lawful order and one charge of unlawful assembly incommoding. The two protests associated with the charges were a march to Capitol Hill on the day after Mother’s Day led by Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink, and the other was an action in July when Tetaz protested as the Biblical figure of Rachel mourning for her children in front of the White House.

Earlier in the day, fellow peace activists Gael Murphy of Code Pink, Rev. Lennox Yearwood with the Hip-Hop Caucus and Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke in support of Tetaz with a few members of the media.

“Eve is drawing a line, and saying that there has to be a different way – a way of peace,” Yearwood said. “This woman is an inspiration to all of us.”

Tetaz is a member of the Church of the Savior, and founder of LifePathways, a non-profit organization committed to helping single parents establish a career in the healthcare field.

On Monday morning Tetaz will report to court, accompanied by friends, to begin her sentence.

###

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Notable anti-war activists support senior woman expected to receive jail time


WASHINGTON – Three prominent peace activists will offer their support to a 76-year-old woman this Friday, November 2, when she appears before a senior Judge of the DC Superior Court for a status hearing as a result of her engaging in civil disobedience to nonviolently protest the continued war and occupation of Iraq.

Gael Murphy of Code Pink, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip-Hop Caucus and Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War, will speak to the press supporting the retired D.C. schoolteacher Eve Tetaz. The Adams Morgan resident has a hearing Friday morning in D.C. Superior Court. The three prominent anti-war activists will speak to the media on behalf of their friend at 11 a.m. in front of the courthouse at 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W.

"This courageous woman has been an inspiration to us," said Rev. Yearwood. "In order to stop continued illegal and immoral warfare, more will need to follow in her steps."

Yearwood has been arrested a few times for protesting the Iraq War, including a September 10th arrest in which he was injured when six Capitol Hill Police officers tackled him outside of a House hearing room where General Petraeus was testifying. He was on crutches for several weeks after the incident.

Murphy and Kokesh have also been arrested in the past for engaging in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience during protests against the Iraq War. They have six pending charges between them. Kokesh made national news during the summer when the U.S. Marine Corps re-discharged him, as less than honorable. Murphy is a co-founder of Code Pink Women for Peace, the most visible anti-war group in Washington this year.

At 9:30 a.m., Tetaz's hearing will begin. She plans on pleading no contest to four misdemeanor charges. Within the last couple weeks, the prosecution said it would not resist a no contest plea. Tetaz maintains that she is not guilty, and if the judge accepts her plea of no lo contender, she faces immediate sentencing, which will involve jail time. In the event that the Judge refuses her plea, she will go to trial.

"The right to peacefully and non-violently petition the government is the cornerstone of democracy," Tetaz said. "I was obeying a higher law, which decries the crimes against humanity committed in Iraq."

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. She is a member of the Church of the Savior, and has been an advocate for the poor on issues of economics and social justice.

Who: Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Gael Murphy and Adam Kokesh speak to the media in support of their friend 76-year-old peace activist Eve Tetaz.
What: Eve Tetaz faces serious jail time due to four misdemeanor charges stemming from nonviolent protests against the Iraq War.
When: 11 a.m., Friday, November 2nd.
Where: D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW