Saturday, November 04, 2006

Die-In at the Federal Building

The five-year-old peace vigil in front of San Francisco's Federal Building continued its weekly sojourn at noon on Thursday...

...and it was a cold, wet hour for the participants.

When I asked the vigil organizer, Markley Morris, if we were going to lunch afterwards at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant, he replied, "Oh no, today we're going to get arrested."

It seemed that Markley was part of another peace group that was planning to have a "die-in."

The details of how it was going to be accomplished were still being decided at the last minute, whether to lay down inside or outside, who was to participate and who were there as watchers.

Somebody had also contacted quite a few media outlets, and a few television cameramen showed up to collect footage of the "die-in."

One of the Quaker peace vigil activists confessed to me that she thought the timing for this was terrible, with the election coming up next Tuesday, and Congresswoman Pelosi already being demonized across the country as the symbol of far-left "San Francisco Values."

Though I agreed with her to a certain extent, in truth it doesn't matter. Pelosi is as corrupt, venal and warmongering as anybody on the Republican side of the aisle, a fact that was only reinforced by a letter recently sent by her office to me. The missive was in response to a hand-delivered letter from Markley and myself expressing concern about all the saber-rattling over Iran and the rumors swirling about that the United States was thinking about using nuclear weapons against that country. (Click here to see our excellent adventure delivering that letter to Pelosi's office last April.)

The following was her response:
"Thank you for contacting me to express your support for H Con Res 398, which expresses the concern of Congress over Iran's development of the means to produce nuclear weapons. I appreciate hearing from you, and I agree with you."

"H Con Res 398, introduced by Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL), calls for Iran to honor its stated commitments to grant International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors unrestricted access to nuclear sites. It also urges the President and the international community to take all appropriate measures to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear devices."

"Iran armed with nuclear weapons is an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States and our allies in the region. It is critical that we work with our allies to resolve these issues and lead a global effort to prevent Iran from obtaining technology necessary to build nuclear weapons."

In response, I'd just like to say to Congresswoman Clueless and her even more clueless staff that "I don't agree with you." My clearly stated fears are about the United States attacking Iran with nuclear weapons, a serious possibility, not Iran attacking the United States or its allies (read Israel) which at present is not a serious possibility.

This Tuesday, if you're a San Francisco voter, please join me in voting for Pelosi's Green Party opponent, Krissy Keefer. This awful congresswoman does not deserve anybody's support.

I didn't stick around for the actual arrests at the "die-in" so I will quote from an account that Markley sent via email.
"The first-Thursday monthly die-in was a success. Those committing civil disobedience lay down in front of the plaza door of the Federal Building. We covered ourselves with sheets. Some of those standing vigil read names of the U.S. and Iraqi dead. Elizabeth Boardman was dressed in black, veiled, carrying a child-like bundle, wailing and keening. I thought all of this was effective and moving."

"We lay there perhaps 20 minutes. We were read a warning three times and then taken into custody. Instead of plastic handcuffs our hands were tied behind our backs with white shoestring-like cords and we were walked into the Federal Building. Six of us were arrested."

"At the die-in last year, those arrested outside were arrested by city police but today the jurisdiction was federal police. The federal police were pleasant and treated us well. One policeman told us that the dozen or so federal police involved in our arrest had all done military service in Iraq. One told about being sent to New Orleans for a month following Katrina."

"We were charged with "Failure to Comply with Lawful Orders of a Federal Police Officer." If we choose not to pay our $125 fine - I believe all of us are refusing to pay - we will be sent a court date in Magistrate's Court right there in the Federal Building. This happened last year and some of the defendants had charges dropped because the arresting officer had failed to fill in one of the boxes on the Violation Notice."

"Today they checked the notices diligently. One option, rather than paying a fine, is to do community service for a registered non-profit such as AFSC. When my info was being taken I declined to give my SSN. The officer said he couldn't release me unless I gave it. I was damp enough that I decided not to fight it. He showed me that the portion of the Violation Notice with this info was blacked out on all copies but the original, so I felt better about giving it."

"So this is the first die-in. The up side of only six being arrested is that it makes it easier to double or triple our number on the first Thursday next month, December 7, Pearl Harbor Day."


Anonymous said...

i am very grateful to these people for doing this important work. and to you for reporting.

there's such an upside down, alice in wonderland, what's real? what's made up? quality to our government and its actions at home and abroad. misinformation, truth twisted to mean its opposite. murky confusion (like pelosi's response to your letter). these simple clear and direct actions are grounding.

love from me,

sfwillie said...

With people dieing there should be medical staff on hand. I'll see if some UCSF peacenik group wants to show up in medical apparel.