Friday, April 24, 2009
Liz got arrested for saying National Guard should come home!
by Lisa Savage
General Petraeus testified to the House Appropriations subcomittee this morning on the supplemental war funding request of $83 billion that will come up for a vote soon. CODEPINK turned out in force: Gael, Medea, Liz, Toby, Martha, Sarah, Maggie and I lined up out in the hall early but there was really no need -- hardly anyone else showed up to listen. Still, we were barred from sitting in the empty rows of seats at the front of the audience (i.e. close behind Petraeus where we'd be visible on camera). When Petraeus said something about the need to better prepare National Guard and reserve troops to do their jobs (sic) in Afghanistan, and Liz said, "Our National Guard should be at home in their home states, not in combat," the police pounced on her and put her under arrest. She left the room willingly, but they hauled her off to processing anyway.
(Search for today's hearing on C-SPAN to see Liz hustled out and listen to the piles and heaps of b.s. the General had cooked up to conceal the fact that the supplemental allocates more than 10 to 1 military over aid or diplomacy spending. At one point he says we don't want to eat our young, and then moments later that said young might be bumping into a glass ceiling. Block that metaphor!)
As soon as the hearing ended Medea went to Rep. Chet Edwards' office to plead with his staff to have him intervene with the police. (Edwards chaired the subcommitte and also said some nice things about freedom of expression along the way). I stayed to follow up and eventually the congressman himself emerged from the back office and told me his staff had called the capitol police to say he was very much opposed to Liz's arrest for speaking out. He apologized several times, and said that in fact in the hearing the committee had been "trying to get at some of the things on your signs." (NO MILITARY SOLUTION / GOT DIPLOMACY?? / $76 b. WAR, ONLY $7b. AID?). We had a good talk. He seemed amazed that a social studies teacher would spend a beautiful Friday on spring break attending the Petraeus hearing. "Now that's dedication!" he said with a big grin. Me: "I'm going to go back and tell the students how the 1st amendment really works in Washington."
Just a few minutes ago I got to talk to Liz on Gael's phone. She was without an i.d. but had a check someone had just given her so they were running her name through the system before releasing her. I thought this meant she was not arrested, but Gael said she would probably be cited and have to appear in court. Liz sounded ok and said not to worry. She is the hardest working unpaid citizen lobbyist I have ever known (yes, I have known a few). The American people owe her. Where is everybody when Petraeus is asking for this kind of $$$ to keep killing people?? (Sure, he said all the right stuff about aid and rebuilding and diplomacy, but check the numbers in his budget to expose that particular lie.) My family jumped in and helped when I emailed an urgent plea to call Edwards' office, and soon she was released. Thank you!
What an exhilarating week. I was proud to be pink before, but my delight at being associated with this fiercely dedicated, intelligent, paying attention group is complete. I have to go home very early tomorrow morning to resume my teacherly duties, but this I vow -- I will be back!