We arrived at the Howard University Democratic Candidate Debate last night in the pouring rain and heaving wind. We all huddled under the awning of the building, waiting for tickets, but Liz came out with only 3 more tickets and so half of us had to go home. Luckily, I was chosen to go in because I was wearing a sweatshirt under which I was able to stuff a huge canvas banner. I thought it looked and felt pretty obvious, but I made it through without any problems. They must have thought I had tumors all up in my stomach or something. Samaneh said that some of the guards saw me stuff it under my shirt (it was pretty hard to miss) but didn't do anything about it. I like to think that they were sympathetic to the cause, but they probably just thought it would be fun to see if we could spice up the debate a bit.
We decided to wait until the end of the debate to fly the banner so that we wouldn't get kicked out before the end, but the debate ended so abruptly that it caught us a bit off guard. They ran out of time, so there were no closing statements and they actually had to cut the last candidate off because they ran out of time. We stood up immediately and began chanting "Troops out now, not in 2009" over and over again. I ripped the banner out from under my shirt and tried frantically to hold it up by myself until I realized it was upside-down! We got it right side up and Tina helped me hold it, but it wasn't long before the debate was off air and a group of guards came frantically running at us trying to shut us up. We were sitting behind the cameras so we didn’t get on TV, but hopefully our chant could be heard.
As we were walking out, I could see the guards gesturing at each other from across the room and I turned around to see three of them standing shoulder to shoulder right behind me, herding me out of the auditorium. I said, “awww… isn’t that sweet, you guys are all walking me to the door.” They smiled, but continued to escort me out. When I went to go to the bathroom, a man in a crisp blue suit told me I wasn’t to go anywhere but out of the building. I was finally able to convince him to let me go, as long as he escorted me to the bathroom. I asked if he was going to listen at the door to make sure I was really peeing, and he got this funny disgusted look on his face and assured me that he would certainly not be doing that. When I got out of the bathroom, there he was, waiting for me and he walked me all the way up to the door. I gotta say, I felt pretty important!!
I wish we would’ve been on TV, but it was still good that the audience and all of the candidates heard us. The best part was that it was so much fun! Watching everyone get all uncomfortable and frantic when we started chanting was hilarious. Before CODEPINK I think I would’ve been uncomfortable and embarrassed to make a scene like that, but last night I just felt pure delight!