News From World Can't Wait - Peaceful Protesters Attacked In Berkeley
2 protesters arrested . . . Several injured
This must stop! Your support needed!
Dear World Can't Wait Bay Area community,
This is a short report on the Friday, February 22 protest at the
Marines Recruiting Station in Berkeley. We will have more to say in a
few days, as WCW and our other friends in the anti-war movement make
new plans to continue this struggle and build for an outpouring of
resistance on March 19, the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war. However,
before we release more public statements, or take other steps to
address the continued use of excessive police force against nonviolent
protesters, we want to let you know what happened -- particularly
since police spokespeople have been lying about it ad nauseam to the
media, attempting to portray us as the aggressors.
Also in Berkeley, on February 16:
For the first time in five years, Berkeley police officers have shot
and killed someone. A 51 year-old African-American grandmother, Anita
Gay, was shot in the back by police in front of her home in South
Berkeley. Outraged members of Mrs. Gay's family and community and
anti-police brutality activists are mobilizing now. World Can't Wait
joins them in demanding that her killers be brought to justice.
How you can help:
Email us if you can write letters, attend court hearings, or
contribute to legal fees and replacement of damaged materials
(including over $9,000 dollars of sound and video equipment). We are
exploring our legal options now, and will keep you posted. And of
course, we are always looking for assistance from justice-loving
lawyers and trained legal observers. More info later this week.
February 22 report:
World Can't Wait activists arrived at the downtown Berkeley Marine
recruiting station at 11 AM. We were joined by Code Pink supporters,
Vets for Peace, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, and a number of Berkeley High
students, and students from other schools, who came on their lunch
break and again after school. We had a short "speak out" in which
several anti-war military veterans spoke. Young women took turns
reading a statement from the women of Okinawa denouncing another rape,
this time of a 14 year-old girl, by U.S. Marines on this small
militarized Japanese island. Others read moving poems written by
prisoners in Guantanamo.
Each time World Can't Wait has protested in front of the Marine
recruiting center, police have become increasingly more aggressive and
overbearing - as they have now become toward other protesters there,
including Code Pink. They placed two armed officers smack in the
recruiters' doorway, impeding business as usual themselves. They
nipped at our heels every five minutes, belligerently enforcing every
permit rule, closely timing our parking in the 3 minute loading zone,
enforcing jay-walking laws, and making up new laws on the spot, such
as their outlandish claim that it was illegal for a lone pedestrian to
walk to the corner carrying a picket sign!
In the past when we have protested in front of the recruiting
station, we have been allowed to put up signs and a table on the
sidewalk, as long as we didn't block the sidewalk. Not this time. The
cops brought sound equipment to monitor our decibel levels. Since they
destroyed our very expensive sound system last week, we brought only
bullhorns, which made this even more ridiculous.
At 4:00 PM, when more youth arrived after school, about 20 of us took
a short legal march around the square, as we often do. Then to
conclude the day's action, we went for another short march chanting
and wearing the orange jumpsuits of Guantanamo detainees as we went.
Pedestrians and drivers were honking and waving at us, throwing us
peace signs and power fists. We headed for the traditional free speech
corner on Shattuck Avenue in front of the BART station.
We never arrived there.
Using the pretext of a sound violation for using a bullhorn - which
we've generally been allowed to use in Berkeley - the police waded
into our small group to grab one youth leader who had been leading
chants. As the police shouted and shoved and used their batons to push
their way through our group to get at this young man, activists
wrapped their arms around each other, non-violently standing between
the police and him. A crowd was quickly gathering. Youth of all
nationalities hang around this area, and when they saw the police
assaulting us, many pulled out their camera phones to snap pictures of
the brutality and joined our chants -- which had changed from "Stop
the torture, Stop the war . . . That's what we are fighting for!" to
"Let Him Go! Let Him Go!"
A dozen or so squad cars, sirens wailing and lights flashing,
suddenly rushed the intersection from several directions, as more cops
began pulling out their clubs and beating people. Young WCW activists
were hit in the face with batons. Older people were also assaulted: a
leading WCW organizer was grabbed and thrown head first into a brick
wall, and a member of Code Pink is on crutches after she was violently
thrown to the ground. (Both women are OK after emergency room
treatment). Finally, the police pulled the WCW youth organizer from
the crowd, threw him in the back of the squad car and took off for the
jail. They also arrested a 21 year-old Army "conscientious objector."
The police dispersed the riot squad, while almost simultaneously
holding a quick press conference to ensure the media would dutifully
report that the police had been "forced" by the protesters to go to
this level of violence, all because of a bullhorn.
We regrouped and marched back to the Marines station, and ended the
day on our feet and back at this outpost of the war machine, chanting
and speaking out. We want to let the community and the world know that
we are determined to step up the struggle to stop this illegitimate,
criminal war and occupation. We are all looking at what has happened –
including the huge showdown on February 12 between anti-war Berkeley
and the rightwing pro-war invasion, and also the fact that all of our
recent three World Can't Wait nonviolent protests at the recruiters
have been hit by full-on riot scale police attacks – as a clear sign
that the powers-that-be are worried because we are having an effect,
and that determination from the youth and everyone else is what is
called for now. More is needed, especially now, with the March 19th
fifth anniversary of the war fast approaching. This is our
responsibility to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the torture
victims at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and to the world.
Another news flash: Thursday, February 21
20 World Can't Wait activists confront war criminal John Yoo
at UC Berkeley School of Law
As we said here last week, it is appalling to find the legal
architect of the Bush regime's torture policies and fascistic "unitary
power of the executive" doctrine presiding over a panel discussion of
respected law professors as they all calmly discuss the ins and outs
of the presidential elections. What does this say about the elections
- in which neither leading Democratic candidate will denounce the
Military Commissions Act and the torture it enables, nor the Patriot
Act? And what does this say about the new norms we are now living
under, where a war criminal is teaching constitutional law to future
lawyers and judges?
See the front page story and photo from the Daily Californian here:
Rafael, Stephanie and Noel,
SF Bay Area WCW Chapter
Enough! The World Can't Wait!
Drive Out the Bush Regime!
Impeach Bush & Cheney for War Crimes!
Donate generously . . .
- A Berkeley homeowner just gave WCW $400 to buy 25 more jumpsuits.
- Another woman who can't afford to miss work for the protest sent a
check for $100.
- Two local business owners continue to generously donate their space
for WCW events.
WCW is an all volunteer organization. It is a vehicle for the change
we need NOW. Funds from you are the fuel this vehicle needs. Give all
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