January - February 2011
“… Nel was the quiet, graceful grandmother with the head of gorgeous white hair and beautiful smile who always got the job done. … She was there for me and for all of us in the North Texas area peace and justice movement when the opportunity arose to call out the war criminals for who they were. In this blog entry from 2007, I describe a nerve-wracking event in 2005 when we "crashed" a Republican fundraiser at the Sheraton hotel in Arlington. … Beatriz got escorted from the event. Hillary and I got our asses dragged out and detained by the sheriff. Meanwhile, Nel quietly got the real job done: handing out the candies tied with messages revealing the use of depleted uranium in the war on Iraq.” – Desiree, DC House “Mama”.
We begin this Roseroots Report with a memorial to Nel LaBar, a longtime Texas codepinker who was at Crawford in August 2005 with Cindy Sheehan's peace action, and who attended anti-war protests and actions around the state. She gave time and energy to our Capitol Hill work and in the DC Pink House, too. CODEPINK national made a donation to Under the Hood Café in Killeen, TX in memory of Nel. As her sister Texan Desiree Fairooz wrote: “Nel taught me so much. She lived and breathed peace! I still have much to learn from her for I will never forget her indomitable spirit.”
2011 got off to a grim start. In Iraq, 6 American troops and at least 216 Iraqis were killed by suicide bombers, IEDs and assassins. In Afghanistan, 25 American soldiers and marines and hundreds of Afghans were killed in fighting in the longest running foreign war in US and Afghan history.
In Gaza, Palestinians continued to suffer from border closures and lack of access to materials to rebuild their homes on the second anniversary of the Israeli assault named “Operation Cast Lead.” On the Margaret Chase Smith Bridge, Maine activists read from the short play ", 7 Jewish Children: a play for Gaza" by Caryl Churchill to remember this horrific attack.
And at home in the USA, on January 8, a shooting by a disturbed young man directed against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona wounded the popular congresswoman and 12 others, and killed 6 people including a federal judge, a civic-minded 9-year-old girl, Giffords' director of community outreach, and several elders. Tucson local group coordinator Mary DeCamp helped organize the peace community in southern Arizona to speak out against violence and for peaceful conflict resolution, gun control, and help for the mentally ill; please watch the video. CODEPINK sent out our statement of sorrow.
January 11, the 9th anniversary of the opening of the torture and detention facility known as Guantanamo, Los Angeles CODEPINKers gathered in Westwood to bear witness and read stories about the prisoners. DC PINKers joined the Witness Against Torture procession in front of the Department of Justice Building, some in orange jumpsuits and black masks. In Miami, Nancy Mancias and Linda Belgrave organized an action with Florida activists at the US Southern Command, the command center for the prison camp
On January 12, representatives of Canadian retailer The Bay acknowledged that the chain was no longer carrying cosmetics products from the Israeli company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories which takes its mud and minerals from the land of Occupied Palestine! CODEPINK's Stolen Beauty campaign continued to draw international support and allies as part of the BDS (Boycott Divestments Sanctions) movement against Israeli aggression and occupation.
Nancy Mancias along with local CODEPINK coordinators organized numerous bird-dogging protest of war criminals at book talks and other public events throughout January and February across the country, including Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, John Yoo, George “the Decider” Bush, Karl Rove and others. You can buy a war criminal gift basket for that special someone and find out where war criminals are going in the months ahead here.
In late January, President Obama made his annual State of the Union speech; and CODEPINK was ready with a report card. DC PINKers delivered it to the White House and Rae was there to say why. CODEPINK upgraded the state of our internal affairs with a new website, www.codepink.org.
CODEPINK local group coordinator Karen Van Fossan, for the North Dakota Peace Coalition, made this statement to the press on January 27, 2011 in support of SCR 4015, North Dakota's Peace Resolution (now pending in North Dakota's legislature). “I have spent nearly ten years of my life speaking, writing, protesting, organizing, even singing and dancing for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. … In this spirit, SCR 4015 not only calls for an end to these wars and occupations — it holds up nonviolent alternatives that work.”
In late January, we also learned that the color-coded “alerts” that CODEPINK's name satirizes are being phased out; author David Swanson gave praise to us in his essay, “Victory: CODEPINK Wins the Future!”. David “gets” us and our sometimes zany ways: “Nothing cures fear like laughter, and nothing brings laughter like the joyful and irreverent interruption of self-important stupidity.”
The month of January ended with two major efforts. The first was a week-long CODEPINK presence at Creech Air Force Base, home of killer drones, and court support for the “Creech 14” who were convicted of trespassing but released “for time served” (one day) by a sympathetic judge in Las Vegas. The week culminated in a moving ceremony led by Shoshone Chief Johnnie Bobb and his family, with our friends from Nevada Desert Experience, at the boundary of the Nuclear Test Site.
The second was a huge protest of the Tea Party financial backers, the Koch (pronounced “Coke”) Brothers. New staffer Logan reported: “There were at least 50 CODEPINKs dressed to the nines, ready to Quarantine the Kochs in Rancho Mirage, CA. PINKs came from all over the southeast, including Liz from Arizona. The rally massed upwards of 2,000 activists from the Ruckus Society and the Other 98%, to Greenpeace, the Courage Campaign and Common Cause, among many, many others.”
On January 30, a CODEPINK delegation bound for Gaza ended up staying in Cairo and specifically Tahrir (Liberation) Square, as the dramatic people's uprising led to the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak and the beginning of a new era in the most populous country in the Arab world!
In solidarity with the democratic revolutions starting in Tunisia, catching fire in Egypt, and spreading to Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Iraq and all over the region, on February 4 – 5, CODEPINKers in Chicago, Portland, Maine, Los Angeles, and San Francisco turned out for solidarity rallies and marches in support of the people's democracy movement in Egypt. In addition to our pink, we wore the colors of the Egyptian flag – red, white and black, and we carried signs and banners in support of democracy and ending “aid” to a repressive regime long overdue for replacement by a better government. As state of Maine coordinator Lisa Savage summarized, “…on camera we managed to make the connection to how continued U.S. tax $$ aid to Mubarak supports dictatorship, not democracy.”
Upon their return from Egypt, Medea and Kit Siemion from Washington State spoke in the media and at public events about the inspiring popular revolution for democracy.
Stolen Beauty activists participated in lively actions and online action parties as part of the second annual Valentine's Day of action for Palestinian rights and against Ahava's occupation profiteering, and in conjunction with Stop the Wall's day of remembrance of Jawaher Abu Rahme. CODEPINK collected thousands of signatures on a petition to deadly tear-gas manufacturers CSI telling them to stop selling to Israel and CODEPINK Pittsburgh joined in an action at CSI's HQ. Click here to see fun videos of Boycott Ahava actions in February from London and France!
Washington, DC codepinkers participated in an AHAVA action at a local Bed Bath & Beyond. DC staffer Shaden reported: “A small group of us entered the stores all decked out in pink bathrobes. We announced that AHAVA products are made on illegal settlements, before breaking into song and dance in front of the customers. We concluded with a conversation with the manager.”
Also on Valentine's Day, Arizona pinkers and their allies from Raging Grannies and WILPF “married” corporations in a spoof of the Citizens United “Corporations Are People Too” Supreme Court decision. Putnam-Hidalgo was a bride marrying [war profiteer] Raytheon in the performance. The group sang "Chapel of Love" but replaced the lyrics with lines like "corporations are so special" and "no protections for anything but profit galore."
Following a Berkeley event on January 16 that featured former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel as a speaker and focused on support for alleged Wikileaks whistleblower Army PFC Bradley Manning, on February 15, with lots of organizing from Cynthia Papermaster and other Arrest Torture activists, the Berkeley City Council voted to support Bradley Manning, but refused to extend an invitation to 2 Gitmo prisoners to re-settle in the city.
Spain has decided to go ahead with investigating and prosecuting US war criminals (aka “the Bush 6”) involved in setting up torture policies at Guantanamo and elsewhere! Leading up to this, CODEPINKers in LA, Dallas, and the Boston area brought flowers, petitions, and thanks to Spanish consulates, where they were warmly received.
Connecting the dots between the underfunded public sector, attacks on unions and war spending got a huge boost of energy with the brave resistance movement from Madison, Wisconsin! Medea went there on her return from her amazing time in Egypt – and found Wisconsin workers were directly inspired, and in some cases, literally fed, by Egyptians. On the last weekend of February, CODEPINKers in San Francisco, Sacramento, Dallas, DC and other cities brought our Bring Our War $$ Home messaging to solidarity rallies.
with our sister organization Women for Women International, several locals participated
in "Meet Me on the Bridge" walks in honor of the 100th anniversary of International
Women's Day! More details in the spring Roseroots Report.
Dana Balicki, our longtime national campaigns coordinator, said a fond farewell to CODEPINK as a staffer after over 6 years of great work. The NYC office is now closed, at least for now, and our media/online organizer Jean Pockrus has moved back to North Carolina where she works from home.
Rae is in transition from being the local groups coordinator and is now organizing CODEPINK's Middle East campaigns re Israel and Palestine, and supporting the staff/national team. Kristen in LA and Janet in SF are supporting local organizing efforts.
C. J. Minster is our new Bring Our War Dollars Home national campaign coordinator, working out of the Venice, CA office and soon to visit the great BOW$H activists in Maine. C.J. comes from working with WILPF, and has a strong communications and activist background. Reach C.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org
New staffer Logan Price works full-time to campaign on Wikileaks through the San Francisco CODEPINK office. Logan is a freelance activist, campaigner, and action coordinator based in the Bay Area with a wide variety of experience with creative non-violent tactics. He's done awesome climbing banner drops and quarantined the Koch Bros and has worked with many organizations including the Ruckus Society, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network. Reach Logan at .
Coming up this spring:
Continuing: A war criminal may be coming to your town! Check out the calendar and get your handcuffs and other gear ready to make a citizen's arrest.
March 19: The sad, horrifying “anniversary” of 8 years of US war and occupation in Iraq; be part of a revitalized movement to bring troops, contractors and money home to the US. This weekend will be huge in DC and will include an action in support of whistleblower Bradley Manning. Sign up to join CODEPINK here. There will also be marches and rallies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, NYC and other cities.
March 30: Palestinian Land Day – the next coordinated day of Boycott and Divestment actions world-wide – join by boycotting Ahava in your city! Action ideas here.
In late March and April: Afghan parliamentarian and leader Malalai Joya, author of "A Woman Among Warlords," will be on a speaking tour of the United States! Click here to find out if she's coming to a city near you.
The people, united, will never be defeated!
Rae, Janet, Chelsea, Kristen and the CODEPINK team