Sunday, October 7, 2007

Gandhi Peace Brigade/ Lieberman Wants to Drop Charges, Prosecutor Says No

Dear Friends,

Leslie and her CodePink sisters recently attended Petraeus's Congressional hearing. When the general started to say that Iran was supplying weapons to the insurgents in Iraq, Leslie jumped to her feet and yelled, "That's a lie! That's a lie! I've been to Iran. I was there in May. They're beautiful people!"

A Capital Police officer grabbed her by the arm and escorted her out. As he was taking her from the room she told him, "He's lying, I've just come back from Iran." "I understand that" he said. Another officer asked, "Are you going to book her?" "No" he responded, "We're letting her go." He turned to Leslie and said,"You're not allowed back in the hearing and don't make any disruption in the hall." With heart pounding, she left before they could change their minds.

Nine people were arrested that day. Others were simply escorted out of the hearing and released. Some had to spend the night in jail. The police seemed to be acting arbitrarily without rhyme or reason. When Reverand Yearwood objected to not being allowed back in line, he was taken down by eight policeman and his ankle was broken.

Leslie was fortunate not to be one of the people arrested. The judge she saw for her "unlawful entry" charge in Lieberman's office would not have been pleased. Lieberman wants to drop the charges (thanks for those phone calls), but the prosecuting attorney has decided to go ahead with the case. He gave Leslie the choice of a jury trial, with a possible sentence of six months in jail, or a stet docket. In the spirit of "picking her battles" Leslie has chosen the stet docket. Agreeing to this requires her to stay out of trouble for the next six months, which won't be easy.

We're both committed to doing what we can to prevent a military strike against Iran and sometimes our love for the people we met over there causes us to commit random acts of kindness and senseless beauty. The Capital Police are also beginning to see pink, so we're wondering if there might be some "pink profiling" going on.

Leslie and I are currently staying at the DC CodePink house. Dressed as "Pink Police" we protested in front of the Washington Press Club where Petraeus was speaking. Medea, disguised in a business suit, tried to get in, but they reminded her that she has been "banned for life". Another time we walked out of a Congressional FISA Hearing wearing enormous sunglasses with "Stop Spying" written on the lenses. Yelling "Arrest The War Criminal!" into bullhorns near the president's good-bye ceremony for General Pace at Arlington Cemetary felt especially good. CodePink is fun and effective and it is SUCH AN HONOR to be making a difference with these strong, defiant women. Join them if you can! ... either here in DC or at your local chapter.

Peace and Freedom,

Jes & Leslie

The Administration's Plan for Iran
by Seymour Hersh
Iraq Will Have To Wait by Scott Ritter
Olbermann to Bush: Your Hypocrisy Is So Vast

Stop the War on Iran Petition:

Charlie Rose Interview of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ms Pink (an article about Leslie)


Friday, September 7, 2007

Whips and Sheep

Whips and Sheep
Today kicked of the “Whip Congress into Shape “Campaign. A Swedish reporter was the first media to arrive. They followed the house crew around as usual takes were accomplished and last minute refining of the campaign were put together. The time arrived when we all assembled in front of the new banner, wearing Whip Congress Into Shape t-shirts – all which arrived FEDEX at 7:30 am, and sang the campaign song which had been finalized at one am. Once again ideas rained down and power to the people grew. After the press conference, we took the Yellow Rose Bus, (google it) close to the Capital.
We unloaded banner, tambourines, sheep heads, and women dressed in pink, with top hats and pink whips! It business as usual for the Capital crowd, tourists, staffers and others as we marched down the street, chanting. When we stopped marching to set up for the second press conference, Anne Wright began to lead us in chants No more killing no more war. Not a moment on the hill is wasted when you have the opportunity to sway a Senator. Many people were stopping members of Congress as they entered or left the building attempting to reason with them. The thing I observed was that most of the members would stop and talk even if they were on the wrong side.
After a great press conference we did an action on the Capital steps. Both actions are on U-Tube. You can check them out through the Codepink website under Press releases. Actions never stop here because the killing has not stopped.
Later several of us went to a screening of the The Valley of Elah. I highly recommend everyone see it. It is a true story about PTSD and Iraqi Veterans. Difficult, but necessary viewing.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Awe in DC

Every day is an adventure. This day started with a walk to the Capital where we chanted to welcome staffers back to work. Some demonstrators were wearing Chimp hoods designed by Bill Moyer. Most folks smile, some looked away, some looked embarrassed. Was it for us or because they are stuck in a job that they do not believe in? We will never know why people reacted the way they did. That is not what is important. What counts is that they reacted.
Next, we joined about 20 people in support of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, and their parents in a silent protest in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid was speaking. When he brought up Iraq we all stood up. We were told to sit down or leave. So we left, silently and respectfully. We were escorted to a holding area, where we were briefly detained. They took only Des’s and my ID info. It was just harassment, as we complied quickly, without any disturbance. It seems to me the anti-war movement has someone paying attention. When we four CODEPINK ladies enter the House there were just a few police, but we were told by the time others arrived the hall was lined with officers ready and waiting for a disturbance. We were escorted out of the building five at a time. Allison stayed with me, talking the entire time to our escorts. Two of the veterans were detained longer. The best part was that the press was waiting outside. Our Vets were able to get their message out.
As we walked the halls of Congress the gals would peek their heads in the open doors of Senators offices to greet the staffers with a “Hi” and “Tell your boss to end the war. It is a flawed plan.” They are poetry in motion.

We had lunch in the cafeteria where Des & Liz greeted every one they recognized, and many they did not know. What a kick. Later we stood in the hall to catch Senators as they went to an Armed Services hearing on treatment of detainees. It is pure pleasure watching Des and Liz as they chase down Senators appealing to their good since in regards to the issue. Anne kept saying, “Close GITMO. Stop the killing.” I stood by, a sign and camera in hand, and in awe of the energy and commitment they all display.
The thing that strikes me is how friendly everyone is especially when one is wearing an IMPEACH BUSH shirt as Anne does. The police, the people on the street, shopkeepers, and even the people serving food in the cafeteria express approval for the CODEPINK message. It seems there is no question what we the people want – an end to the war – yet Congress and Bush do not hear it. I am leaving this amazing place soon with a better understanding of the depth of frustration the organizers of the anti-war movement are expressing. What can we the people do? Call, write, email, and fax relentlessly. Put feet on the street. Get others to join the fight. Any other ideas?

Monday, July 16, 2007

By Mele Stokesberry July 16, 2007

“ The Pink Report” from Washington DC
By Mele Stokesberry, Maui Peace Action, spending a week at CodePink House, epicenter of CodePink Women for Peace.
Date: Monday, July 16, 2007

I expected my first day with the CodePink activists in Washington, DC, to be hot, and fun and meaningful, and it was, in many ways.

Arriving on Sunday night, I was warmly welcomed with a healthy veggie meal, a good, thorough orientation and a comfortable bed. I am among 15 to 18 women from all over the USA, some staying for months as CodePink house staffers and interns, some, like myself, here for just a week to learn to be more effective in our peace work and to lobby our representatives for an end to the Iraq war. . All are giving up time and resources to come to this donor-supported, pink beehive of activism.

CodePink-ers occupy a 4-story row house near Union Station and within easy walking distance of the Capitol and the Senate and House office buildings that they haunt nearly daily in creative, pink outfits, studded with badges and taped- and pinned-on signs demanding an end to Iraq war funding, restoration of habeas corpus, the resignation of Alberto Gonzales and especially the return home of our troops- now!

Today, after meeting about what one can do and say in the halls of Congress and what will get you promptly arrested, our group of newbies was escorted by Desiree to the offices of our senators – Florida's, California's, Maine's and, of course, Hawaii's. Desiree really knows the tunnels between office buildings, including a short cut via the loading docks, and where to wait in the basement to get a chance, however fleeting, to speak to a Congress member and request support for an amendment.

I made appointments to see my Hawaii reps, Senator Akaka and Congresswoman Hirono, and back in the Russell Senate Office Building we sat down with Senator Inouye's legislative assistant, asking about the senator's likely support for the Levin-Reid amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, HR 1585. It would demand troop redeployment from Iraq to start by October and be completed by April 30, 2008. While no clear answers emerged, he did tell us that Senator Inouye is solidly backing efforts in Hawaii to test for, and clean up, depleted uranium at military firing ranges. That's great, but it was surprising that we seemed to have to inform the senator's aide about the fact that our military shoots depleted uranium in theaters of war.

At noon we walked to the Department of Justice building to join Code Pink's street demonstration demanding the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. “Alberto, go back to Texas, there's nothing quaint and obsolete about the Geneva Conventions! Kidnapping, torture, illegal eavesdropping, political firings, and you can't even recall...” were some of the slogans shouted from the bullhorn, as passers-by and drivers honked for peace and justice at the sign-wavers and at CodePink members in President Bush and Condileeza Rice costumes. For what it's worth, the temperature out there was a little hotter than noon on a windless August day in Lahaina.

For me, however, the high point today was meeting Leslie at the house and then seeing the story of her hunger strike and its happy result broadcast on Democracy Now (for Monday, July 16, at

Leslie fasted for 22 days while she petitioned Senator Joe Lieberman to meet with her about his comments regarding military action against Iran. Leslie has traveled in Iran and knows the people and country. She went to the senator's office daily asking for 5 minutes of his time to talk about why we shouldn't start dropping bombs on them. On the 21st day without food she fainted in his office and was arrested for it. Taken to a hospital, she was interviewed and on TV, and it was only then that Senator Lieberman agreed to give her a brief interview. On the 22nd day, she sat down with him and even brought into the interview a young bicyclist in the capitol as part of bike tour of Iranian citizens for peace. Leslie says she believes she and he made a difference, and that is what we are all here to learn to do.

More tomorrow.