UP AGAINST THE FENCE
There were 131 arrested at the White House today as hundreds turned out in the cold and snow for the Veterans for Peace action calling for an end to the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We waited holding onto the fence for over an hour before the Park Police began arresting us. They loaded three city buses with the resisters and drove us about six miles to the headquarters of the DC Park Police where we were quickly processed and released. We were given two options: pay a $100 fee and be done with it or instead plead not-guilty and be scheduled for a trial at some point down the road - likely in the spring. I chose the latter and all of us who plead not-guilty have to return to the Park Police HQ tomorrow to get our date to return for arraignment.
I then made my way back to the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House where I stayed last night and will stay again tonight. Also here are seven women from Northampton, Massachusetts (including 91 year old activist legend Frances Crowe) who all got arrested today as well.
In the beginning of the video you can see me in a blue jacket - I was one of the first to jump over the barrier that the police had put in place in order to try to keep us away from the fence. The police were actually quite good to us today, very gentle and friendly, with many of them smiling and putting our handcuffs on very loose. I was able to slip out of mine quite easily after I was put on the bus.
There was alot of international and alternative media covering the action today but we saw no sign of any of the corporate network TV being there. No surprise really in America where information is tightly controlled.
The best speech of the day, at the rally that kicked off the event, was by award winning journalist Chris Hedges. He has often been criticized for his strong and direct analysis of the current situation in the U.S. (his book called "The Death of the Liberal Class" being one example) but today he challenged us using the word "hope" over and over again. He told us that civil resistance to the empire, at a time when reform is dead inside the halls of Washington DC, is the only way to create hope.
So essentially in answer to his critics Hedges is challenging them to either put up or shut up. You want hope he is saying, then get off your arse and go out and organize non-violent resistance to the war machine!
It was a special experience to be with so many veterans in this act of truth. Dan Ellsberg, who helped turn me into a peace activist with his release of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, was beaming like a lighthouse along the rocky Maine coastline as he hung onto the fence.
Our job now is to extend this energy into our local communities - places like Maine where the newly elected Republican controlled state legislature is going to cut $800 million more out of the budget - most of it will come from social programs.
We've got to increase our efforts to connect the dots between war spending and social collapse.
Additional video coverage here