Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Orange Jumpsuit Brigade
On October 5th, I was dressed fashionably in an orange jumpsuit and a black hood. OK, fashionably for Halloween maybe. The jumpsuit, which I put on over all of my clothes and jacket, made me look like a rather large pumpkin with a stem.
Well, my pumpkinlike appearance was one of the few amusing parts of my experience, which took me from the Supreme Court to McPherson Square to the White House to the U.S. Park Police station at Anacostia (southeast Washington, D.C.). The other amusing part of the experience was Team Torture. This was made up of several people dressed in striped prison uniforms and large heads. The large heads included George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, and Dick Cheney. All of them were wearing baseball caps, but don't think that any of them are ready to play in the World's Series! But they were ready to meet and greet their fans, with Team Torture trading cards, including a rookie card for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld!
These cards make great collector's items and stocking stuffers for the person on your Christmas list who already has everything.
Once Team Torture had finished meeting and greeting fans outside of the Supreme Court, where Sonia Sotomayor was waiting to complete her first first day in her new Big Government Job, the Orange Jumpsuit Brigade marched away. As we were led away, Dick Cheney gave us two thumbs up! I wonder if he gave two thumbs up to the real detainees.
We marched in pairs from the Supreme Court to McPherson Square. We must have been a very odd sight... a long line of people, all dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods. Perhaps people in Washington, D.C., are used to that odd sight. It was kind of a long walk to accomplish when your vision is obscured. Fortunately, there were people to warn us when to step onto a curb and when to step down from a curb.
At McPherson Square, the orange jumpsuit brigade could relax a little and remove the black hoods. We heard speeches and poetry and music from a variety of people, including Emma's Revolution. Emma's Revolution sang "Peace Salaam Shalom" and "One" (about the School of the Americas) and another song (I forgot the title). It helped that the sun was shining and that it was a pretty autumn day. I also enjoyed seeing some of my friends from this past August's Walk for Peace from Camp Douglas to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, including Joy First, Jennifer First, Kathy Kelly, Gerald Paoli, and Joshua Brollier.
At about noon, we had to put our black hoods back on for the march to the White House. We marched right up to the sidewalk. This time, we were lined up with four persons to each row. Before long, we were at the fence. Some of us were able to chain ourselves to the White House fence while others were thwarted by cops, who seemed to be ready for us.
Names of the dead were read out loud. These included U.S. servicemembers, Afghans, Iraqis, and Pakistanis. We called for the dead to be mourned, the wounded to be healed, and the wars to end. Some people tried to deliver a letter to the president at the press gate but, I was told later, the Not-Very-Secret Service forcefully removed the protesters. So much for the first amendment... you know, that part that says that all citizens have a right to seek a redress of grievances from their elected officials...
Well, those of us in the "picture postcard zone" didn't really get much of a chance to seek a redress of grievances, either. Sixty-one of us were arrested and handcuffed with those truly uncomfortable plastic straps. We were thoroughly and less than gently patted down and were driven (in an air conditioned bus!) to the Anacostia police station, where we were ticketed and released.
We actually had to return to the police station the next day to finish our processing and to be given our court dates.