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CODEPINK responds to Escalation with actions around the nation

December 2, 2009
CODEPINK Local Groups Around the US
The following are local report-backs from actions around the country responding to Obama's devastating escalation of 30,000 more troops to continue the occupation of Afghanistan.

At West Point and in Oklahoma City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, peace activists did a "pre-emptive protest" shortly before Obama's speech. In Maine, activists protested at several federal buildings around the state. In Missoula, Montana, a baker's dozen people from the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center braved the 20 degree cold and "not so pleasant" responses to hold a peace vigil (Jeannette Rankin, the only congresswoman in 1917, voted against the US going to war in WWI.) On the Strip in Las Vegas, over 20 CODEPINKers and military family members who had been protesting drones at nearby Creech Air Force Base engaged in moving conversations with tourists and locals about the escalation. In Minneapolis hundreds marched through the streets and eleven were arrested. Read abundant news coverage here:
This is the time for street protest, and the US peace movement is showing up!

From Maine:
CODEPINK women and a crowd of about 75 concerned citizens from Bangor, Bucksport, Deer Isle, Brooklin, Fairfield, Madison, Solon, Belfast, representing more than a dozen peace & justice groups in Maine, met in front of the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building to chant, sing, bang pots & pans, and stop traffic during the evening commute hour. Our message: TROOPS OUT NOW! NO ESCALATION! GROUND THE DRONES!! The crowd ended the evening being filmed by Channel 5 TV news and chanting "We'll Be Back!" Simultaneous demonstrations happened in Portland, Augusta, Brunswick, Farmington and Rockland.

From Boston, MA:
There were at least a couple of hundred people at Boston Common from 5-7 PM, from a wide range of progressive and leftist groups: from Church groups, strong UJP, a good turnout of vets, Military Families Speak Out, to a few socialists and people from Revolution Books. There was music (including Dylan's “With God on our Side”) and noise and a lot of good energy.

It felt really good to realize people are beginning to notice that CODEPINK is BACK in Boston. We CPers are still small in numbers but stalwart and growing. I had several intense conversations and interactions with people in the lulls between noise and speeches. I had only 2-3 minutes to speak--managed to get in a plug for the DC rally Dec 12 and the need to do something here; the need for continuous demos; Gaza Freedom March, need for big GFM action First Night. I alluded to Andrew Bacevich's superb analysis linking Palestine and Kashmir as cruces of Al Qaeda and Taliban problem (on Democracy Now today). And I stressed need for unity of peace movement and much greater effort needed to increase numbers.

We took turns hoisting a skeleton (Mexican Day of the Dead about 4 feet long) with an army helmet (5 stars); we had vigil lights, signs saying Obomba No No No You Can't! Get out of Afghanistan (and everywhere else).

From Detroit, MI:
Pretty good turnout in Detroit--150 or so people, despite cold and steady rain. Ee had 3 local peace activist leaders speak eloquently about the necessity for us to end these wars, since Washington will not. Two of our group were interviewed by the press.

From Minneapolis, MN
Hundreds of people turned out to protest the escalation of war in Afghanistan as rush hour filled downtown Minneapolis streets Wednesday night. Marchers convened in the southwest corner of Loring Park at 5:30pm and then motioned cars aside as they took to the streets heading toward downtown on Hennepin Avenue.

As the march came to 3rd Avenue and 10th Street, several dozen people sat down in the intersection in an act of civil disobedience. Eleven people were arrested as the march continued in different directions. A jail vigil convened at 9:30pm in front of Hennepin County Jail; bail was set at $50 for 9 of the 11 arrestees all of whom are facing misdemeanor unlawful assembly.

From Missoula, MT:
We only had 13 people for the vigil and it was far too cold to take any pictures. Probably the cold kept a lot at home. We got lots of honks from passing cars and just a few not so pleasant commentaries.

From Oklahoma City, OK:
Oklahoma City Peace Community did a pre-emptive "No Surge" Rally on a busy intersection in the drive-home traffic, 4:30 to 5:50 pm BEFORE the speech (Dec. 1). About a dozen of us held signs "Honk - No Afghan Surge" and got lots of supportive honks. Good TV and radio coverage, and a photo in our city daily THE OKLAHOMAN.

From the town of Orange, Orange County, CA:
We made the Orange County Register Newspaper! Here is the link:
I was very disappointed in the low turn-out number. Perhaps it was because of the 2 other vigils/protests going on in LA. We had 12 people at the end which is about average for our regular vigils. And the reaction was the same as usual, more positive than negative. We also had our usual protesters against us - the FREEPERS and the lone Tea Party guy across the street. By the way, MFSO-OC got great coverage too:

In Portland, OR:
I would say 50-100 range turned out for the rally. There were a few mild speeches along the lines of: “We have to help Obama see things differently etc." One woman, Pam Allee, spoke about the need of putting your body on the line, direct actions and arrests. Good for her!

In San Francisco, CA:
At the candlelight vigil organized by AFSC, about 40 people turned out to sing peace songs, hold candles, listen to the words of clergymembers, and share a quiet moment of reflection.

At the coalition rally at Powell and Market, hundreds gathered to hold signs and banners, chant, and listen to speakers including codepinker Bobbie, who used the points on our “Hopeless Escalation” as her talking points in her impromptu speech. We marched a few blocks around the shopping district and got many honks and comments of support.

Activists also gathered to watch Obama's speech together at a local restaurant and got a lot of media coverage during their analysis of the speech, and at a coalition press conference held earlier in the day.

What CODEPINKers around the country are saying:

"Obama just bought the war--sending good bodies after dead bodies. I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see more resistance from the troops and their families, and that was a big turning point during the Vietnam 'War'." - Karen Beatty, New York, New York

"Remember, Obama promised to move the troops from Iraq to Afghanistan during his campaign. This is one promise he's keeping. The rest of us can lose our homes and jobs, or get our kids to enlist." - Martha Shelley, Portland, Oregon

"I was quite disappointed to hear Obama's speech last night as it means no healthcare for my children, just unending warfare." - Kelly Jacobs, Mississippi

"I am so upset. He spit on my son's grave and all our children's graves that died in this war. I called the President, I called my Congressman, I hung a huge sign in my front yard, and I took a pledge to stop paying war taxes. He lied, our children die!" - Janie Poe, West Virginia

"I feel betrayed and abandoned. I voted for Obama because he said he would bring the troops home, close Guantanamo, hold war criminals responsible, give us a public option, make the government more transparent, and govern responsibly. I don't feel as though he hasn't had the time, I wouldn't have believed he had enough time, but he has addressed these issues specifically already! In each case, he has gone back on his commitments. I already sent a letter to the President, and my representatives urging them to refuse additional funding." - Lisa Petry, Virginia

"Obama, there's no Nobel Prize for war! When we gathered this afternoon in front of the local military recruiting offices (4 of them on the same street about a block apart), we got plenty of honking traffic and positive responses, very, very few negatives... and this is in the heart of midwest, peacenik-hating, right-wing-religious fundamentalism... so, I tend to believe it is a big shift from what used to be the "normal reaction" of the public vis-a-vis peace activism." -
Liz Lovejoy, Ukiah, California

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