Last Wednesday, I called Condoleezza Rice a war criminal. Thirty uncomfortably cold hours of detention later, two other CODEPINK members, Liz Arizona, Medea Benjamin and I were released on our own recognizance with "stay away" orders for all of Capitol Hill until our court cases and or sentencing was served. (They do the crimes and we do the time!)
This was not the first time I had been told to stay away from somewhere since the U.S. invasion of Iraq destroyed the lives of millions of Iraqi people and decimated the cradle of all civilization.
Veterans' Day, two years ago, members of CODEPINK Fort Worth, crashed a Republican fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel in my hometown Arlington, TX. To these lengths we had to take our petition in order to gain 10 seconds with our congressman. We wore our evening best and walked into the black tie affair standing near the door during the convocation, our hearts pounding out of our chests. I had never before in my life attended an event at which I was not welcomed.
No one had yet noticed Hillary, Nel and I and so after the rendition of God Bless America, Hillary Timmers, our Fort Worth CODEPINK coordinator shouted out, "This is for Daniel Torres!" and we unfurled the elegant black satin shawl she wore. The reverse side covered in huge pink duct tape letters read, GOP = WMD and we began singing a version of Yellow Submarine, "We don't want your dirty war machine, your dirty war machine, your dirty war machine..." A man sitting at the table nearest me grabbed at the shawl pulling my arms down with it making it difficult to hand out the hard candies we had prepared. Instead of being able to place them at nearby tables some went airborn. Each lemon or orange drop tagged with a pink paper strip said, "DON'T BE A SUCKER FOR THE GOP". Nel Labar, another cohort quietly placed some at the tables on her side of the room. On the reverse side of each candy was another message referring readers to a website about depleted uranium.
Hillary and I were summarily dragged out. This action resulted in our detention outside the hotel by Arlington Police who after lengthy interrogations, cited me with provocative assault for the candy "throwing" and made us sign a "stay-away" order to never return to the hotel.
To meet with our congressman over the issue of the war on Iraq was the whole point of this action. How could anyone hear Beatriz' story and not be affected by the tragedy of it all. This young man, before returning to Iraq on his second tour, asked his aunt to do something about it, to work for peace.
Our representative's office refused many times to give us an appointment until this night. He agreed to meeting just two people, Beatriz and myself.
A month later, the meeting we worked so hard to get was to no avail, the congressman had us quickly escorted off the property when he did not like what we had to say. I reminded him that he worked for us, the American people. Barton's response' "I work for the people who got me into office!"
What is a citizen to do when their representative has no interest in what that citizen has to say?? Who provides oversight for Congress? I can never get an appointment with Barton, or my senators Cornyn and Hutchison. Even after taking time off from work as a children's librarian to come to D.C. in September '05, May '06, and finally March '07 to find my representative has revealed to me their lack of humanity. Congress isn't listening. They haven't been for many many years. While they piddle and ponder, Iraqis die, our soldiers die and America's soul withers away.
I can no longer stay at home and nurture my own family while the families of others suffer and die by the hands of our soldiers and the guns and the bombs kill and maim little children. I can no longer stay at home while American sons and daughters kill the sons and daughters of Iraqi mothers. I can no longer stay at home while the horrors of rape and sodomy, rendition and torture, cholera and deformed fetuses pervade. I can no longer stay at home while the ringmasters of murder and mayhem, shock and awe, blood and guts and war crimes continue to "make a killing" Can you?