Indictment day two-for-one
Serendipity came to our witness to hold Bush and Cheney Monday when we got to witness at two American shrines in one day.
On Monday, in response to the no response from Attorney General Michael Mukasey to a letter requesting a meeting to discuss the indictment of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance went to the Department of Justice at noon to personally request a meeting with Mr. Mukasey.
At the meeting, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance hoped to discuss several examples of what they (myself included) perceive to be illegal behavior on the part of the Bush administration. For example, the administration made false claims about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to build a public case for war. This manipulation of prewar intelligence included a claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could threaten the United States. Intelligence was also manufactured to claim a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
Joy First, of Madison, Wisc., spoke with a representative from the Department of Justice Public Affairs office. While he agreed to take the letter to Mukasey’s office, he promised nothing else.
In response, there was a die-in. The l participants were four activists from Baltimore - Maria Allwine, Ellen Barfield, Lou Collins and Max Obuszewski - three from Washington, - Malachy Kilbride, Pete Perry and Eve Tetaz - Dr. Arya Bhardwaj from India, Tim Chadwick from Pennsylvania, Christine Gaunt from Iowa, Michelle Grise from Virginia, Steve Mihalis from Ohio, Don Muller from Alaska, Phil Runkel from Milwaukee and Manijeh Saba from New Jersey. All lay on the sidewalk in symbolic death.
The most inspiring was an older woman with extremely severe cerebral palsy who traveled all the way from Seattle to be a part of this action. She could not get out of her wheelchair so she stayed right next to the people on the sidewalk and right next to one of the 15-plus officers who were guarding, I don't know what - the building, the passers by. She was not in the least intimidated, and believe me, it takes guts to do that when you have all of your physical capabilities. I can just imagine what it takes when you're as vulnerable as she is.
The Metropolitan Police decided not to arrest those sprawled on the sidewalk or the woman in the wheelchair.
Local activist Jeffrey Halpern provided drumming and chanting. He also helped people to avoid arrest by explaining to one of the officers that the die-in folks planned to stay on the sidewalk for an hour and then would leave.
A TV reporter from Denmark covered the action and interviewed several people - me included. An AP (Apathetic Press) reporter was there for a few minutes.
Because I have a 30-day reservation in a D.C. “timeshare” - which is good for up to one year (meaning a 30-day suspended sentence for the January Supreme Court witness against torture), I was there as the Action Support Person. That means I coordinated and kept all of the information (emergency contact information, medical and legal info, etc.) on the 30 action participants so if someone had to go to the hospital or got arrested we could track them and ensure their safety and safe return. I also held people's belongings.
I had to stand back from all the action and just observe – also functioning as a legal observer. That was tough.
Since Barack Obama, the president-elect, was to meet with George W. Bush at the White House at 2 p.m., some 30 activists, including people from California, Oregon and Washington state, decided to take the message – indict Bush and Cheney as war criminals – to Pennsylvania Avenue.
At 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, the group lined the streets with banners calling for indictment or impeachment as the Obama motorcade passed by (if you've never seen a presidential motorcade you're really missing something – all of the streets are cleared of vehicles, intersections are closed, there's an ambulance in the motorcade, as well as what appeared to be a traveling fortress; it must have cost at minimum $5,000 for the 7-minute ride from the Senate to the White House).
Throughout the march from the Justice Department to Pennsylvania Avenue, well-wishers greeted us with shouts and horn honks of support. The 1,000-plus “crowd vibe” at the White House was very supportive, as well, with several people having their photos taken with the group and no political epithets shouted.
The European press was at the White House so France and a couple of other foreign countries will be well informed on this action by concerned U.S. citizens.