On Monday, 9/26, Cindy Sheehan and I were arrested together; along with more than 350 other good citizens. We had committed the crime of going to the White House to deliver a list of the names of those who have been murdered in Iraq in the latest version of US Government empire building. I hadn’t planned to be arrested, not for fear, I have had the experience on a few occasions before, but more for convenience, not wishing to miss my early Tuesday AM flight. But, as I marched with friends to the White House, my thoughts changed. The logic of, “If not now, then when?…If not I, then who?”, took over.
We became a boisterous and confident group. After being refused entry to speak with our tenant in our White House. We refused to leave. We sat and sang and chatted with the arresting team, and decorated the fence with signs, ribbons, and the names of the dead. We were yellow-crime-scene-taped into our little section of sidewalk and refused to leave. We ignored three warnings to leave. The police were mostly kind and brought us water and cookies provided by supporters on the othe side of the tape.
Cindy was arrested first. Appropriate, and probably involved some strategic police-think. And, though her recent rise to iconic status made her the most notorious, there were others of celebrity with us. She refused to stand voluntarily, was carried a few yards, handcuffed, photographed and placed in a “paddy wagon”. A procedure similar to that which we all were to endure for several hours on this fall afternoon.
One very agile young man decided to scale the 8 foot fence surrounding the White House. He was very quick and sumbling a bit at the top, fell hard to the grass inside the compound. He was immediately and violently smothered, bound, and dragged away by eight or more uniformed men and women.
My turn came about an hour into the mass arrest. I offered no resistence. My hands were plastic-cuffed behind my back. This seemed like a silly thing then, but five hours later it had turned to a moderately painful indignity. My possessions, except money and driver’s license, but including shoelaces (suicide prevention I guess?!) were taken and placed in a bag. One by one we were processed, and, after a very warm wait inside the wagon, were driven far to the southeast part of the DC area to Anacostia.
Our paddy wagon group of 14 men passed the next several hours,…5?,6?,… in a large garage/cage called a “sally port”??, with three other similar groupings of fellow men and women arrestees. We all remained cuffed, except a few small-handed ones who could remove them at will. At one point we all stood in a circle a shared a bit of biographical information. We were all unrepentant.
Toward the end shoulders began to hurt. Then, we made it to the final preocessing…paperwork, finger prints, mug shot, more paperwork, possessions returned (including those lethal shoelaces), and “freed” into the drizzly evening. Five busses full of my partners-in-crime were still waiting to begin the process, which meant that they would not get out until the early AM hours of Tuesday.
I was ordered to leave quickly, take a left and another left and that would get me to public transit. This turned out to be a bit disingenuous, since had I found it necessary to walk, I would still be looking for the Metro, or worse, as a city police officer would suggest to me later, experience the thrill of being mugged…maybe he was exaggerating. However, I was soon “rescued” by supporters and driven to “real” freedom, reunited with friends, and, soon, about 10:30, back in another friend’s apartment drinking a beer and rubbing my shoulders.
In coming days, I will be asked the standard questions; ‘Was it worth it? What was accomplished?’,…etc. I will answer “yes,… maybe, …time will tell, and …it depends what happens next…”
I will never again see most of my fellow co-conspirators, some I will. But I will be gratefull for the honor of sharing a good day with a few hundred dedicated folks, and standing up against this criminal war.
So…thank you Cindy, Medea, Meredith, John, Ann, William, Jodie, Carolyn, Cornell, and all of you whose names I do not know, or will not remember. It was a very good day. Let’s do it again, soon.
GARY HANDSCHUMACHER is a farmer, foster parent and educator. He has been engaged in peace and justice work since 1968 and co-produces Speaking Freely on KVNF radio in Paonia, CO. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH
We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).
Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.
As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.
We are pleased to clarify the position.
August 17, 2005