Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TALKING POLITICS IN JAIL

We had a great rally yesterday in downtown Portland. Excellent speakers, good music, and even poetry from the newly crowned City of Portland poet laureate Martin Steingesser. We handed out 750 leaflets that explained to the public our reasons for protesting and urged folks to call our congressman and urge his support for impeachment.

While people listened we passed around 250 copies of the letter we wanted to deliver to our congressman Tom Allen and asked folks to sign it.

At 1:30 pm we crossed the street and 150 climbed the three flights of stairs to Allen's office and one by one, as you can see in the photo above, they handed their letter to Allen's staff. This process took just over one hour to complete. People very patiently waited in the stairway until it was their turn. The whole thing was very moving and the spirit of the people was magical.

At the end two of our folks read of the names of those who had signed the letters out on the street but could not stay to personally deliver it. In all 250 letters were delivered.

By 2:30 pm about 20 of us settled into Allen's office and began reading the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. One in our group read a detailed list of impeachable offenses committed by Bush-Cheney.

The office officially closed at 5:30 pm and Allen's staff told us we had to leave. We continued with our readings. Then at 6:00 pm the police came and gave us our last warning. At that point those not willing to be arrested left the office and eight of us were then handcuffed and taken down the elevator to the paddy wagon waiting in the street. A good crowd had formed and folks cheered as we were put in the police vehicle.

Our time in jail was short, all but one of us paid the $40 bail bond and were released around 10:00 pm. One person, Kate Chipman, refused to pay the bail and spent the night in jail. I'd venture to guess she will be released from jail today.

As we gathered last night in the jail lobby I noticed one of our group of eight talking with a jail guard in a corner. Come to find out the guard was saying that he completely agreed with us. The guard who released me spent a considerable amount of time talking with me about the declining condition of the nation and I was later to learn that each person that was released by him had a similar experience.

He told me that he was a Republican and had been in the Air Force. I told him I had been the Vice-Chair of the Okaloosa County Florida Young Republican Club in 1968 and had entered the Air Force in 1971. We talked about the true role of the U.S. military today - that of protector of global corporate interests. He said to me, "I don't want to believe you but I think you are right."

One man who spent time in the jail holding cell with us had seen our protest on the jail TV and then when the eight of us were brought into the jail for booking he noticed our bright orange T-shirts and was thrilled to meet us. He told us he was a handy man who lives in Bethel and had been picked up for not paying a 15 year old fine. We spent a good hour talking politics with him and he was adamant in his belief that our American democracy had been hijacked by the corporate interests. He asked if we could send him one of our impeachment T-shirts.

For those who say that civil disobedience is a waste of time these jail interactions last night made it all worth while.

This morning we leave for Bangor where our friends from the north in Maine will be doing a similar action at the office of Rep. Mike Michaud, Maine's other Democratic party congressman. He too refuses to support impeachment.

The leadership of the national Democratic Party have told their members in Congress to refuse to budge on impeachment.

It is our job to apply the pressure on them. As we read the Constitution yesterday in Tom Allen's office we came to the conclusion that our members of Congress have the obligation to pursue impeachment. And we concluded that the citizens are also obligated to demand impeachment as well.

We either live by the rule of law or we do not. Tom Allen applies the law to eight of us for sitting in his office. But he refuses to apply the law to Bush-Cheney when they shred the Constitution. That kind of double-standard can not pass.

(See the video from our action by clicking on the link in the headline above.)

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