Monday, April 4, 2011

Bring Our War Dollars Home.

So in my resolution to try and be a better blogger, here it goes. I'm going to start with a quote by one of my favorite people 

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

That quote was true when he said it in 1967, and it is still true today.  I only wish that our elected officials would listen to King, and re-allocate our war spending to fund the domestic needs of the country.  

I spent quite a bit of time this weekend writing a speech for the Bring Our War Dollars Home Press conference that took place in Augusta today. 

I was in charge of talking about the impacts of war spending on financial aid, and how war spending is devastating higher education.  I'll enclose my speech eventually.  

But I when I work up this morning at 8 am, trying not to freak out, and it worked rather well until I got to Augusta.  On the elevator ride up to the Hall of Flags, I noticed that I left my speech in the car, which meant that I had a freak out for approximately 30 seconds before TJ dashed off to go get it for me.  

The press conference went well.  Bruce said that there was about 200 people there, and then more people showed up for the labor rally that was taking place after.  There was also a draw-in, which seemed to be overshadowed by the proceedings going on in the front of the room, but there were several fantastic artists there, including William Hessian and Kenny Cole.  Some wonderful work was created today, along with other pieces that were created at other draw-a-thons.  

Lisa Savage, of Code Pink Maine, talked about how the 3.4 billion dollars that that Maine has spent on the war since its beginning would be enough to provide every incoming Freshman in the UMS System, with full tuition for 21 years.  To me, this seems like a good way to spend all of that money that is being used to destroy another country.  

Perhaps my favorite moment of the day was when Tom Sturtevant tried to introduce me to Richard again, who is one of the VFP members that I have formed a close bond with.  

Although I did not create any art today, it was wonderful to be around such creative spirit, and besides, if all goes according to plan, I will have the opportunity to create art on Sunday at Peace, Love and Musicfest. 

Well I am completely exhausted, and am having a hard time forming coherent thoughts, so I will try to update this tomorrow but no promises. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hey Obama Listen to Me, Bradley Manning must be set free.

The bus that Lisa and I were on was the last bus to leave Union Station, so we were the last people to get there, and everyone was incredibly anxious to get off the bus. 

Daniel Ellsberg was here, and so was Ann Wright, and I recognized a bunch of other people from the protest the day before, and some people from the convention this summer.   

At the beginning there were people pacing up and down the road with signs getting people’s attention.
When I got there, I learned just how intense Code Pink is about their protesting, and their costumes.  They were putting people into Prison Costumes, and Guantanamo costumes, and then it seemed like we took pictures forever, but in reality, I’m sure it was only about 15 or 20 minutes.  They also had tons of props, they were handing out signs, pink whistles, and they even had a “prison” for us to stand behind during the march, and for some of the pictures.  

Eventually Lisa stripped down to her “Bradley Manning” suit which consisted of pale pink leggings and shirt, and a pair of white undies. 

Someone walked by, and then left, and one of the code pink ladies said “This is important you need to stay here and learn”

Someone yelled traitor, and someone yelled “I would do this for you”

There were so many people taking drive by photos.

There was a camera man and a reporter standing by the road asking people what they thought about Bradley Manning, then someone drove by and told us off, and the two camera men yelled “let’s go ask him” and then took off.  

Two men told me I wasn’t Bradley Manning because I was wearing clothes.  Suggested that we get a bunch of people in their underwear with the “I am Bradley Manning” signs. 

There were two men in Guantanamo suits sitting on the side of the road with their heads covered

The protest started off very casual, and stayed so for the first couple of hours, and then it got intense once the march began.

People went through the barriers after Vets weren’t allowed to put flowers on the Iwo Jima memorial. People were yelling and moving, and it was super intense.

Ann Wright and Daniel Ellsberg were the people who really started the sit in.  They were under a whistle blower torture zone sign that they ended up sitting under.  From what I understand, at first we were told that we would all be able to place a flower on the Iwo Jima memorial, and then it was knocked down to a delegation of five, and then they were told they could just toss the flowers over the fence.  So they placed them down, and then sat down in the middle of the road. 

There was one point in time where the protesters and the riot police met in the middle of the street, and the swat guys started pushing them back, with what seemed to me, unnecessary force.

There were at least 50 to 60 cops, about half of them had riot shields, some were mounted, some were completely covered and had big guns, and then there were some other ones.  Also, there were some “undercover”

People were putting Courage to Resist stickers on the riot shields. One cop got mad, and kind moved his shield when someone tried to put hers on there, and almost hit her in the face.

There were two undercover cops who were completely obvious  

The song that most people were singing was “We Shall Not be Moved”

Some of the major chants, that were lead by a marine who I’m guessing was about 5 years older than me, were
“Hey Obama listen to me, Bradley Manning must be free”
“Hey Obama listen to me, Torturing Bradley is not ok”
“Show me what a police state looks like”
“Show me what a democracy looks like”
“whose streets? Our streets!”

It seemed like there was quite a bit of press there for the entire thing.  Although I am sure that most of it was alternative press, but I did end up on CNN

I also think someone was live-streaming with their computer, they had it open with a webcam, which made me concerned for their computer because there was a great deal of movement going on for

For me the protest was extremely emotional, knowing that he was there.  Lisa and I thought that the people in charge of Quantico figured out just how close people had to be for Bradley to hear us, and then wouldn’t let us beyond that point.  Lisa and I had to leave around 4 to go back into the city, and I did not want to leave everyone, but I was comforted by the fact there were several civil disobedience “vets” there that knew what to do. 

It seemed as though for the last hour or so of the protest, the whistles that we had were being blown constantly, and I remember getting back on the bus with a major headache, and just feeling completely overwhelmed by what I had experienced. 

Later that evening, when I went to upload all of my pictures of the day, when facebook took me to the page where it gives you the option to tag your friends, all of the pictures that facebook wanted me to tag where of his face, which I felt was interesting, and hilarious.