[I got this letter in my email which did a lot to personalize the incident for me. BTW, Leslie is the Code Pinker who collapsed in Senator Joe Lieberman's office after a 24-day hunger strike and Jes is well-known amongst San Francisco activists for his 10-foot tall Gandhi statue featured in many peace marches. To find kinder, gentler people than these you'll have to visit heaven. As I said, I've met Desiree as well -- she's very brave, very tall, and an excellent cook. At an earlier action, she confronted John McCain by waving a sign and yelling "Don't Iraq Iran!"]
Condoleezza Rice was about to speak to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on a “two-state solution” in the Middle East when a policeman tapped me on the shoulder and said,"You can't have that backpack in here." Surprised, I asked him why. He knew my backpack had already been through a metal detector. "You just can't," he told me. I've learned that the capitol police often make up rules to suit their needs at the time.
I'm sure he knew I'd have to leave if I couldn't keep my backpack, because there was no place to put it outside, so I objected. When our conversation got lively, he said he'd be willing to discuss it, but outside the room. I was leery about leaving alone, so I asked Liz to join me. Liz is ALWAYS there for a friend. After much confusion and consternation, the officer finally received orders from higher up, giving me permission to keep my backpack. We returned, happy with this small victory ... and unaware that a world event was just seconds away.
Desiree had taken advantage of this unplanned distraction in the room. She'd dipped her hands into the fake blood and told the young man from Canada sitting next to her,"I'll need to move quickly." "Just tell me when," he said with a nod.
When Condoleezza Rice walked to the front of the room, Desiree took a deep breath and jumped to her feet. She approached the Secretary of State displaying her "blood" soaked hands. "The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands!" she said. As they took Desiree away, she kept shouting, "War Criminal!" Then, with one last burst of courage, she yelled,"Take her to the Hague!"
Tom Lantos (D-Calif), the chair of the committee hearing, told the capitol police to “Take them all out of here.” The police started grabbing people in pink. Liz was the first to go. They pulled her over the chairs, onto the floor, and then dragged her from the room. Lori was writing in her notebook when she was removed. Leslie heard Liz’s cries for help and left the hearing room. They had pushed Liz against the wall, breaking her glasses and cutting her face. She was screaming, ”You’re hurting me!” as she fell to the floor. Leslie was crying out “You’re hurting her! Stop hurting her!” Angry, an officer pointed at Leslie and shouted, “Take her!” A policewoman approached Leslie with handcuffs while another gently pushed her away from Liz and said,"Step back, I don’t want to have to arrest you.”
Approximately one hour later Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, and Zool were also arrested ... Zool for waving a sign that read "Liars" and Medea for holding up a peace sign. “What has become of the United States of America when you get arrested for holding up two fingers in the form of a peace sign?” Medea asked.
CODEPINK has been described as “the conscience of the nation”. Their antics on Capitol Hill often make people in Congress smile ... and sometimes they don't. "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." (Mahatma Gandhi). Many of us are frustrated with Congress and its unwillingness to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its war crimes. Thank you, Desiree, for having the courage to do what many of us wish we could do, but haven't done yet ...
Peace and Freedom,
Jes and Leslie
CNN clip of Desiree's encounter with Condoleezza Rice:
http://www.cnn. com/video/ #/video/politics /2007/10/ 25/moos.code. pink.cnn
One of the most challenging things I've ever done ... film my friend Liz as she was being manhandled by the police:
Medea Benjamin arrested for holding up a peace sign:
The CODEPINK DC House needs people ... please call 202-290-1301 if you can contribute a few days of your life ... YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ... and have fun doing it!