Corrected, revised and updated March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010, thousands of people gathered across from the White House in D.C. and thousands more gathered around the U.S. to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the illegal U.S. attack on Iraq, and to protest Obama’s continuation of the violent occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and other abuses of power. Eight people- Cindy Sheehan, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Jon Gold, Leflora Cunningham-Walsh, Dennis Frostbutter, Alex MacDonald and James Veeder- engaged in civil disobedience and were arrested.
Many people spoke at the D.C. rally, including peace activist Cindy Sheehan, organizer of the Peace Of The Action campaign and Camp OUT NOW. Cindy called for people to physically disrupt the activities of the war machine, and quoted from Mario Savio’s 1964 speech at Berkeley:
“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers and all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop; and you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
After marchers stacked symbolic coffins on the sidewalk next to the White House, Cindy Sheehan and the others named above refused U.S. Park Police orders to stay behind a barrier or to move, and they were arrested. According to Sgt. David Schlosser, who cited Title 36, Section 7.96 of the Federal Code, the charges were “crossing a police line” and/or “refusing to obey a lawful order.” Schlosser said that Leflora Cunningham and another person, whose name who he did not have at the time I spoke to him, were released; the others are being held pending arraignment on Monday, March 22. [update: the six who were held were arraigned and released March 22; they pled not guilty.]
Truth activist Jon Gold cited the 9/11 cover up and exploitation of the attacks to justify pre-emptive war as the reason for his civil disobedience. He dedicated his arrest to 9/11 victim Robert McIlvaine, Jr. and the 2971 other victims of 9/11. Cindy Sheehan has previously called for a full investigation of 9/11, and March 17 she invited truthers to participate in Camp OUT NOW.
The bombing and subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003 were justified by the Bush Administration’s false assertions that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, had ties to Al Qaeda, and was linked to 9/11. 9/11 was the license for the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, torture, warrantless wiretapping, and other subversions of the Constitution– and Obama has cited 9/11 to justify continuation of the same. Given that this license for war and abuse of power (the official 9/11 narrative) has been shown to be false in many aspects; that evidence indicates the involvement of parties other than Bin Laden and Al Qaeda; and that the 9/11 Commission Report was a whitewash and effectively a cover up, it is as important to demand true answers and accountability for 9/11 as it is to demand the end to the illegal wars and occupations, abuse of prisoners and draconian security measures that have stemmed from 9/11. For this reason, a significant number of people at the rally had 9/11 Truth signs and were handing out materials which presented evidence and raised questions.
Well over 7000 U.S. and allied troops, contractors and journalists have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the U.S. invasions. And over 8000 Afghan civilians, and at least 815,000 (possibly over 1.3 million) Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the Bush-launched and Obama-continued wars. Over 1.65 million have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, these deaths and injuries are a result of the false information and propaganda fed to the public about 9/11 by the Democrats, Republicans and the owners of the military-industrial-financial-media complex that is profiting from war and the abuse of power.
We the People bear responsibility for the death and destruction as well; this is our government, and those that serve in it are our public servants, though they may be compromised or corrupt. There was a republic, but we have not kept it, as Benjamin Franklin admonished; now we have a pretense of a republic. Many Americans believe this is as good as it gets in an imperfect world, and vote the ‘lesser evil’, or don’t bother voting at all because the ‘two’ parties both serve the interests of corporations and the economic elite, and the system is rigged against other candidates. Others support independent candidates or third parties on principle, have turned to independent media and moved their money to local banks or credit unions. Many people are actively working to reform the system and increase transparency and accountability. (see links on the left side; suggestions appreciated).
When the Iraq War was launched, a few hundred thousand in the U.S. protested, joined by hundreds of thousands more around the world. Thousands, probably over ten thousand around the U.S., protested the wars this year, but were not willing to risk arrest (myself included). Those who are engaging in civil disobedience and being arrested in order to disrupt the criminal operation of our government by corrupt special interests are putting their bodies on the gears of the war machine. Eight is not enough to stop it. Eight thousand would only slow it down for a time. Still, I find their determination and bold action inspiring, for the same reason that the actions of Rachel Corrie in Gaza and the Tank Man of Tianenmen Square and inspiring.
Buckminster Fuller commented once, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” There are over 6 billion people alive on Earth today, and hundreds of thousands are born and die every day. In the course of human history, hundreds of millions have been killed in conflicts over land, resources, ideologies and selfish designs on power. Hundreds of millions have needlessly suffered and died because money and power are valued more than love and life. All known systems of government become corrupted in human hands, but everywhere that human beings live in large numbers, people accept corrupt government as a lesser evil compared with chaos and anarchy. I don’t know what will make the “existing model obsolete,” but I hope we find it soon.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
“Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.” – Mohandas Ghandi