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: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, February 28, 2009

VIGIL DAY ACROSS DC

We vigiled our way across the nation's capital yesterday. From 11:30-1:00 pm we joined a silent vigil on the sidewalk in front of the White House organized by the Catholic Worker community on the need to close Guantanamo. There were about a dozen folks (including Kathy Kelly) dressed in prison garb with black hoods up against the black steel White House fence and then a handful of us holding banners and signs alongside. As the throngs of tourists and locals walked by they were offered leaflets and organizers were explaining the issue on a battery-powered sound system. Many people took photos.

The Catholic Workers have been holding the vigil during the first 100 days of the Obama administration as a way to keep the heat on him about torture and Guantanamo. New Attorney General Eric Holder just came back from a visit to the notorious detention center and was quoted in the media saying that it looked like a fine operation.

After a lunch at my favorite restaurant in Washington, the Old Ebbits Grill which is just around the corner from the White House, we moved on to the Pentagon for a 4:00 pm vigil.

We had over 75 folks turn out to what was billed as the opening ceremony for the No Bases Conference. Steel fencing was set up to corral us into a "designated protest area" but it was a great spot - right next to the bus and subway lines which people use to come and go from the Pentagon. Tom Sturtevant and I hung a long Maine Veterans for Peace banner that reads "Stop Endless War - Convert the War Machine" on the barrier and as others joined us for the vigil they put their banners along the fence so it was easy for the steady stream of people passing us to see our messages.

The vigil was attended by folks from Italy, Czech Republic, Okinawa, Germany, Korea, Japan, Guam, Hawaii and from all over the US. A few speeches and some songs made up the program which ended with words from our old friend Art Laffin who has vigiled at the Pentagon every Monday morning for the past 20 some years. Art lives at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in DC where we have been staying. He closed his talk by saying that the five sides to the Pentagon should be converted - one for a hospital, one for a child care center, another for a center for peace & nonviolence, an alternative energy research center, and the last side for a bakery.

We will return to the Pentagon on Monday morning for the early 7:00 am weekly vigil.

1 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Thanks for the nice write-up! For more about the campaign to close Guantanamo and end torture, people can see:
http://100dayscampaign.org

3/1/09, 7:42 PM  

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