Arrests in Washington, DC Top 700!

WASHINGTON, DC — More than 700 people from across the country have people been at the White House for taking part in a sit-in to pressure President Obama to deny the permit for a massive new oil pipeline.

Those arrested included leading environmentalist Bill McKibben, former White House official and Yale dean Gus Speth, and gay rights activist Lt. Dan Choi. More than 2,000 more people are expected to take part in sit-ins at the White House every day through September 2.  The action began August 20.  

In what has quickly emerged as President’s biggest environmental test before the 2012 election, the Obama Administration must decide if it will grant a permit to a Canadian company, TransCanada, to allow it to build the Keystone XL, a 1,700 mile long pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, down along the spine of the U.S. to the Gulf Coast.

“It’s not the easiest thing on earth for law-abiding folk to come risk arrest. But this pipeline has emerged as the single clear test of the president’s willingness to fight for the environment,” said environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the protests and was arrested this morning. “So I wore my Obama ’08 button, and I carry a great deal of hope in my heart that we will see that old Obama emerge.”

If built, the pipeline could bring as much as 900,000 barrels per day through the U.S., and put fresh water, clean air and the climate at risk. The world’s most famous climatologist, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, wrote that if the pipeline is built and the tar sands are fully developed, it is essentially “game over” for the climate.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-I) and celebrities Mark Ruffalo, Thom Yorke, Danny Glover, and Josh Fox and have endorsed the protest. Twenty of the nation’s top scientists also wrote a letter urging President Obama to stop the pipeline.

Over the next two weeks the sit-ins will feature a diverse coalition of Americans, including a large contingent of landowners and ranchers along the pipeline route.

More information at

BART Protests Continue into Fourth Week

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A scuffle broke out at a BART station, but after the third week of BART protests all stations remained open with far fewer arrests. This BART protest was noticeably different from the last two. There were no station shut downs and no delays.

Organizers knew they were losing the support of the public. As a result, this Monday's demonstration was a lot less disruptive. The group took a different approach this time around, knowing full well that commuters were growing weary of their weekly protests. They stayed off the BART platform, and instead, started their demonstration outside the Civic Center station.
Related Photos

"Since the BART Police have blamed us for shutting stations, we've decided not to give them a reason to do that again," said a protester who did not want to be identified.

Two people were arrested at the Embarcadero BART station after protesters began to chant "You can't shoot us all."

Police were worried about emotions running high and have said they are not going to be as lenient as they have been during past demonstrations. So far this summer, there have been three protests at the Civic Center BART station. The activist group 'Anonymous' promises there will be a protest every week until their demands are met.

The reasons that brought the protesters together remained the same. They're upset about the shooting death of a homeless man by BART police and BART's decision to shut down cellphone service during a planned protest.

As was the case last week, dozens marched down Market Street, but this time, protesters did not disrupt traffic as they, for the most part, stayed on the sidewalk. Officers with SFPD made sure of that. Last week, the chief warned their response was going to be much quicker this time.

The only time things got intense was when protesters entered the Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero stations. Everyone obeyed police orders and stayed behind the fare gates except for one of the leaders of the demonstration, Krystof. He shouted, "No Justice, No Peace. Disband the BART Police!" Officers arrested him and another man for interfering with BART operations.

Dozens have been arrested in the ongoing protests.
"They can't arrest me for having a T-shirt they don't like. They can't arrest me for saying something they don't like. They can't. They are, but that's the problem with the BART Police is that they're out of control," said Krystof.

In the end, there were no station closures, and no mass arrests like there were last week, which was a big relief to commuters who were tired of the delays.

"Bus or BART last Monday was a mess. So yeah, I'm glad to hear that it's not closed today," said BART rider Shannon Valenti.

"Maybe things are going to de-escalate a little bit and that would be good for dialogue between the two sides," said BART rider Frank Tse.

BART police estimates that about 40 people took part in Monday's demonstration.

Also, several public interest groups asked the Federal Communications Commission to declare that BART broke telecom laws when it cut off cellphone service earlier this month. The groups, including the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation say BART's actions set a dangerous example. BART says it was intended to keep passengers safe. The FCC is now reviewing the petition.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that the BART protests have had an impact on Muni. When BART stations are shut down, access to Muni Metro is also cut off. Muni officials say the last protest cost about $70,000 is shuttles and extra staff. And that does not count lost revenue, said Muni spokesperson Paul Rose.

"We're urging the protesters to let service continue, let our passengers get from Point A to Point B," said Rose.

Protesters have been upset that commuters and city officials have been blaming them for service disruptions.
"It's a sad day for our democracy when protesters are vilified in the name of a comfortable commute. BPD needs reform," said blogger Alex Emslie (@SFNewsReporter) via Twitter.

But riders question whether the majority of people who show up to protest even truly know what they are protesting about.

"Half of them probably couldn't even tell you what the actual protest is going to be about today," BART rider Mariano Flores said.

BART Board of Directors member Lynette Sweet says she has been trying to negotiate with some of the protesters, some of whom, she says, seem willing to talk, but she was unable to convince them to cancel Monday's protest.

Protesters vow the demonstrations will continue.


Army Widow Dragged Out of Rumfeld Book Signing

This photo of Ashley Joppa-Haggeman was taken right before she was thrown out.

The widow of a U.S. Army Ranger was ejected from a book signing event after confronting former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Ashley Joppa-Haggeman’s husband Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann took his own life after struggling with another upcoming deployment to Afghanistan following multiple previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Friday, August 26th for a book signing event to promote his new book “Knowns and Unknowns.”

According to The News Tribune Joppa-Hagemann, who was accompanied by Jorge Gonzalez, executive director of Coffee Strong, a local veterans support organization, “introduced herself [to Rumsfeld] by handing a copy of her husband’s funeral program to Rumsfeld, telling him that her husband joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush Administration.”

Rumsfeld is reported to have responded, “Oh yeah, I heard about that.” 

Security agents and military police officers forcibly removed (“dragged”) Joppa-Hagemann and Gonzalez from the Post Exchange, the venue for the book signing event.

Joppa-Hagemann spoke just three days earlier at the State of the Soldier forum in Tacoma where she told the story of her husband’s struggle. 

Besides the event at the military base, Rumsfeld made no public appearances.  According to the book’s publisher, The Penguin Group, “The Known and Unknown tour will stop in Chicago, D.C., The Gerald Ford Museum, Fullerton, CA, The Nixon Library, The Reagan Library and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. There are two stops in Chicago and the DC event is at the Heritage Foundation.”  


Ranger’s widow ejected from book signing, posted by Matt Misterek on August 27, 2011 in The News Tribune: 

Video of Ashley Joppa-Hagemann’s testimony at the State of the Soldier forum in Tacoma on August 23, 2011, taken by Todd Boyle:

Video by Todd Boyle of news story on Joppa-Hagemann:

Contact:  Leonard Eiger
                Coordinator – Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

Remembering George Lester Jackson

August 21st marked the 40th anniversary of the execution of George Lester Jackson. The Chicago- born Jackson would have celebrated his 70th birthday on September 23rd.

Jackson was a prisoner who became an author, a member of the Black Panther Party, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family prison organization. He achieved global fame as one of the Soledad Brothers before being executed by prison guards in San Quentin Prison.

Freedom Archives has produced a video based on an edited portion of Prisons on Fire (2001) with video editing by Oriana Bolden.

George Jackson - 40 year commemoration from Freedom Archives on Vimeo.

Tar Sands Action Begins in Washington DC

The Tar Sands Action is underway in Washington DC. 2 weeks of daily sit-ins began today with 70+ arrests at the White House fence.

Arrestees included Bill McKibben, Dan Choi, Gus Speth, and dozens of committed climate activists from across the country.

Protestors are calling on President Obama to reject a permit for they Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which will send 900,000 barrels a day of the world’s dirtiest oil to US refineries, allowing further development of the Alberta tar sands – development which could mean ‘game over’ for the climate in the word’s of NASA’s James Hansen.

Statement on First Day’s Police Arrests


U.S. Park Police are holding over 50 people in jail through Sunday night for participating in a peaceful sit-in that took place at the White House this morning.

At 11:00 AM, 65 people took part in the sit-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House fence to pressure President Obama to deny the permit for a massive new oil pipeline.

Over 2,000 people from all 50 states and Canada have registered at to take part in similar sit-ins of 50-100 people everyday for the next two weeks until September 3.

The people arrested this morning were taken to District 5 Station of the U.S. Park Police in Anacostia for booking. The determination was made that participants would be held until Monday, with the exception of 9-15 DC area residents who will be released this evening. Participants were then transferred to Central Cell Block in Metropolitan Police Headquarters until they appear in court on Monday.

Attorneys will have the opportunity to visit with some of the locked-up participants over the weekend. The attorneys expect that the defendants will be brought into court on Monday afternoon and will be charged and released at that time. As of now, participants have been charged with failure to obey a lawful order, although it is possible that additional charges will be added. Attorneys expect that all will be released by Monday evening.

On a phone call late this afternoon, U.S. Park Police told organizers of the sit-in that the jail time was expressly intended as a deterrent for future participants.

The Park Police were especially concerned that sit-ins would continue during the week of events beginning on August 28 surrounding the dedication of a new memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest exponents of creative nonviolence.

In multiple phone calls and in person meetings before today’s sit-in, the Park Police had previously assured organizers that participants in the protest would be facing a “post and forfeit” situation, meaning they would pay a $100 fine and be released the same day. While participants in this morning’s sit-in were trained the evening before to prepare for the worst, many were operating on the “post and forfeit” assumption due to police assurances.

Not deterred
While the escalated response from the police came as a surprise for organizers behind the protest, they assured the police that the night in jail was not a deterrent for future participants. At a church in Columbia Heights this evening, over 50 more participants from across the country prepared to take part in Sunday morning’s sit-in.

Over the next two weeks, 2,000 more people will follow the example of the 65 people arrested today in order to prevent an environmental disaster that threatens their air, water, and climate.

As the dedication of the MLK Jr. memorial approaches, the sit-in outside the White House is a reminder that the great American tradition of civil disobedience is not just history. The participants are coming not with deep pockets or a partisan agenda, but with the simple idea that their voices should be heard.

They will not be intimidated or deterred.

Legal Information
Attorneys working with believe that future participants in the sit-in are likely to face up to one night in jail. The initial charge of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order brings a possible fine of $100 or more. The possible additional charge of Incommoding  (Blocking Passage) brings possible fines of up to $500 and/or 90 days of jail. Defendants would likely receive probation and a fine rather than jail time for the charges.

A full legal briefing will be provided for participants every evening during a training before the following day’s sit-in.

For more information visit:

Fifteen Arrested at Bank of America and Peobody Coal Protest in St. Louis

Activists hold a sit-in at Peobody Coal Headquarters in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS--Fifteen activists were arrested Tuesday, August 16, 2011, after hundreds marched through the streets of St. Louis to protest the Bank of America and Peobody Coal. The action was part of the Midwest Rising! Convergence, a regional gathering of community and climate activists.

The arrests occurred in the intersection connecting Bank of America’s St. Louis offices and Peabody’s national headquarters.  Peabody is the world’s largest coal company and mines states like Wyoming and Montana for coal bound for coal plants in the U.S. and overseas markets. They are currently trying to build coal export terminals along the Washington coast for coal bound for Asia. Peabody has also recently taken a $61 million tax credit from the city of St. Louis, $2 million of that cash will be taken from St. Louis schools.

Bank of America is the largest foreclosure bank in the nation and the largest funder of coal. Bank of America execs have taken over $35 billion in bonuses and compensation even as the troubled financial institution took government bailouts.

Midwest Rising was made up of 400 people from 50 different organizations, including a cross-section of labor, community and climate organizations and convened in St. Louis on August 11 – 15. Organizations represented include: Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Rising Tide, Climate Action STL, St. Louis Instead of War Coalition, Organization for Black Struggle, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Coal Country, Mountain Justice/United Mountain Defense, Greening Detroit, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), North County Neighbors, The Rainforest Action Network: Chicago Chapter, and Pick Up America.

For more information:

Verizon Strike Gets Ugly

Forty-five thousand Verizon workers have been on strike since August 7, 2011.  And it hasn’t taken long for the Corporate bosses to turn nasty.  In attempt to damage public opinion of the workers, Verizon has made false accusations of sabotage and  is suspected of being behind the assault of a number of strikers.

Verizon officials did not offer definite proof that any particular accusations was sabotage. But they said it was suspicious that there had been three times the number of incidents in the last eight days as in the previous six months.
Union officials said they opposed all sabotage and had repeatedly told their members not to engage in such acts. They also said that Verizon was exaggerating the number of incidents.

At the same time, the unions have their own complaints about Verizon, saying that several strikers have been struck by managers’ cars.

Candice Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Communications Workers of America, said Verizon was highlighting the sabotage to turn the public against the strikers, who are members of the C.W.A. and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

“This really does take away from what is the big issue in this strike: that Verizon is refusing to bargain and instead is demanding $1 billion in concessions from workers who earn middle-class wages,” she said.

Despite record profits, Verizon is pushing the unions to accept far-reaching concessions, including a pension freeze, fewer sick days and having workers contribute far more toward their health coverage.

The communications workers union said a picketer in Massapequa, N.Y., had been hit by a private security guard leaving a Verizon facility, and another striker had been hit in the head by the side mirror of a manager’s van in Howell, N.J.

Michael Ward, special agent in charge of F.B.I.’s Newark office, said the agency was “looking at this matter” because “critical infrastructure has been affected.” He said the F.B.I. was not taking sides in the strike.

Papa Murphy's Workers Protest Sex and Race Discrimination.

PORTLAND, WA--A group of former Papa Murphy's employees have been picketing since July 1, 2011 outside the store at Northeast 15th Avenue and Fremont Street, where the group alleges managers discriminated against workers by denying them breaks, underpaying and using offensive language to refer to employees. Organizers say they will present the restaurant with a petition signed by about 300 supporters that states "workers often heard derogatory terms with no apology (such as sexist terms, racist terms like the ‘N’ word, and homophobic terms)."

The organizers of the protests are 20-year-old twins Dennise and Cherise Mofidi.

Dennise Mofidi, who worked at Papa Murphy's for about three years, says she quit in April after complaining to store manager Rick App about sexual discrimination. "I asked why does he treat females this way," Dennise Mofidi said, alleging he called them names and told them not to use cell phones while allowing male workers to do so. The twins say Dennise Mofidi threatened to complain to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, and that the manager then fired Cherise Mofidi in retaliation.

The Mofidis did file BOLI complaints in mid-June. Dennise Mofidi's complaint alleges App "called a female assistant manager a 'slut' and encouraged others to do the same."

Protestors plan to call for App's resignation as well as that of district manager Matt Malony.

Dennise Mofidi writes on a Facebook event page promoting the protest that a manager ordered one employee to scrub a toilet with a toothbrush as punishment for arriving to work five minutes late.

At least six former employees will protest Friday, the Mofidis say, along with friends and other supporters. Here are the group's written demands, which Dennise Mofidi said were written with help from the Urban League, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy group:

1. Papa Murphy's publicly condemn discrimination based on Race and Sex in their Portland branches.

2. All Papa Murphy's employees immediately enforce breaks that are mandatory in the state of Oregon every 4 hours of work.

3. We are asking that you (Papa Murphy's) fire Matt Malony district manager at the center of many of the accusation of discrimination.

4. Jennifer Souza the Human Resource manager gets retrained to better serve her diverse employees.

5. Workers that were fired and treated unjustly should get compensated for their unemployment as well as their losses.

Peace activists block road to sub base – Kucinich calls for nuclear abolition

BANGOR, WA--Four peace activists were arrested August, 8, 2011, while attempting to block the entrance to the U.S. Navy's West coast Trident nuclear submarine base.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington, just 20 miles from Seattle, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons.  Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads.  Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield of between 100 and 475 kilotons (up to 32 times the yield of the Hiroshima bomb).

Members and supporters of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Ground Zero) in Poulsbo, Washington commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by vigiling at the New Main Gate entrance to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor while some protesters blocked the entrance during the early morning rush hour on Monday, August 8, 2011, symbolically closing the base.

Demonstrators lined the side of the roadway, many holding signs and banners calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  At 6:45am four participants attempted to block the base entrance roadway using an inflatable full-scale Trident missile. Ground Zero Peacekeepers had already entered the roadway to safely stop traffic, after which the protesters lifted the missile over the barricades marking the designated protest zone.

As the four moved the missile onto the roadway, Washington State Patrol officers immediately moved in and attempted to push the missile back towards the designated protest zone.  The missile was pushed back and forth on the roadway before State Patrol officers lifted it back over the barricades.

The four missile handlers were arrested, processed at the scene, issued citations for “pedestrian on roadway unlawfully,” and released.  Those arrested were Rev. Anne Hall of Seattle, WA; Betsy Lamb of Bend, OR; Brenda McMillan of Port Townsend, WA; and Tom Rogers of Poulsbo, WA.

Tom Rogers is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, Retired, who once commanded a nuclear submarine.  Although active in Ground Zero for many years, this was Rogers’ first nonviolent direct action.  Following the action Rogers remembered Sister Jackie Hudson, longtime peace activist, nuclear abolitionist and member of Ground Zero, who died last week.  He said that Jackie had a big impact on him and that she helped him to take that first step outside of his comfort zone, and then go just a little further.

A memorial will be held for Hudson at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Saturday, August 13th at 1:30 pm. Following the memorial, participants will be invited to gather for a vigil at the Bangor entrance gate to honor Hudson.

The weekend commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries included a nonviolence workshop, a vigil at the Kitsap Mall, music, and a special appearance by Congressman Dennis Kucinich who spoke to the gathering on Sunday evening.  Kucinich spoke passionately about the need to abolish nuclear weapons, and his message was well received! 

Kucinich stated that the doctrines of “unilateralism, preemption and first strike must be set aside as profoundly dangerous relics,” and that “it is our responsibility to make war itself obsolete through direct action and through concrete steps, which can take us in a direction of peace.”  Regarding nuclear weapons Kucinich said that “we cannot hope to abolish nuclear weapons unless we change the thinking that created those weapons and unless we change dramatically the U.S. role in the world.”  Kucinich elaborated on how he would achieve what he referred to as “a new doctrine of strength”, which would rely on diplomacy and other non-military means.

The purpose of the vigil and nonviolent action was to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons and our continuing reliance on them (particularly the Trident nuclear weapons system), and the importance of working towards a nuclear weapons-free world. GZ holds vigils and nonviolent direct actions every year on the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

For over thirty-three years Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Contact:  Leonard Eiger, Media and Outreach
                 Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
                 (425) 445-2190

Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone  (Coordinator)
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Media & Outreach)
Disarm Now Plowshares (Media & Outreach)    

Hiroshima-Nagasaki Resistance Report from Washington, D.C.

Art Laffin being arrested at another disarmament event in 2010.

by Art Laffin

Focusing on the theme: "Remember the Pain, Repent the Sin, Reclaim the Future," about 25 people attended the annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Faith and Resistance retreat in Washington, D.C. sponsored by Jonah House and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. The retreat included prayer, viewing the compelling new film by Bud Ryan and Susan Overbey, "The Forgotten Bomb," presentations on the U.S. Bomb complex and the Drone and Trident weapons systems, and three nonviolent nonviolent actions.

On August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration and the 66th anniversary of the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, we witnessed at the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb, which was on display at The National Air and Space Museum Steven Udvar-Hazy Center. As we knelt in silent vigil in front of this warplane of unspeakable horror as a tour guide told the myth about the bombing, we held photos of the A-bomb victims, and placed peace cranes near the plane. From a catwalk above the plane, a banner was unfurled with a quote from Pope Paul VI, referring to the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima as "butchery of untold magnitude." We concluded the witness with a reading of Dan Berrigan's poem, "A Shadow on the Rock," and processed out of the museum singing "Child, Child."

On August 9, the anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, and the martyrdom of Sr. Edith Stein and Franz Jagerstatter, the community held two actions were held at the Pentagon and White House.  At the early morning Pentagon witness, Catholic Workers' Amber and Kevin Mason and Bill Frankel-Streit, peace activist Rosemary Thompson from Baltimore, and Sr. Margaret McKenna from the New Jerusalem community in Philadelphia, were arrested as they stood outside the designated "protest area" near the visitor's entrance holding photos of the A-bomb victims and a banner that said: "No More Hiroshima's and Nagasaki's." Following their arrest, other retreatants who were in the designated protest zone read the entire "Original Child Bomb," by Thomas Merton, as well as an account of a Nagasaki survivor.  Selections from the writings of Franz Jagerstatter and Sr. Edith Stein were also offered.

Later at Noon at the White House, the community offered a similar action as was held at the Pentagon. During this witness many of the same readings that were read at the Pentagon were offered, as well as a recent quote from the Apostolic Nuncio to the UN stating there is no longer any justification for nuclear weapons (see below quote). Songs were also sung remembering the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An urgent appeal was made to abolish all nuclear weapons and war, to stop construction of new bomb facilities at Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Kansas City, and to redirect all the wasted money and resources going into modernizing the U.S. bomb complex to instead meet urgent human needs. We also invoked the names of all the peace prisoners and recounted their life-giving actions for a world without weapons and war. And finally, a powerful peace poem was offered by Palmer, from the New Jerusalem Community.

Ron Greene
As the witness concluded, Ron Greene, a veteran, biologist and activist from Oregon, was arrested as he sat on the sidewalk in front of the White House holding a sign announcing his hunger-strike to save birds that are going extinct where he lives and calling for a peaceful, sustainable planet.

We continue to keep our eyes on the prize as we strive together to forge the beloved community.

Dorothy Day CW
503 Rock Creek Church Road, NW | Washington, D.C. 20010
Phone: 202.882.9649 or 202.829.7625

Gaunt’s Charges Dropped for 50th Die-In at Iowa Senators’ Offices

by Christine Gaunt

I just received a letter from the Feds that they have dropped the final two charges against me that I was supposed to face at trials on August 11, 2011.

I have been persistently and creatively lobbying my Iowa senators with the simple message: NO MORE $$$ FOR WAR for more than a year.

During Die-In No. 50 on April 27, 2011, I received two citations from federal security officers. At 10:30 am I was charged with "taking unauthorized photos" in the stairwells of the Federal building. I was taking photos of the artwork on the walls as part of my defense for an upcoming trial. I had been arrested for loitering in the stairwells.

Since returning from Afghanistan in March where I was part of a civilian peace delegation, those stairwells had become the only safe space I could find in the Federal building. Lying dead on Grassley and Harkin's floors with my NO MORE $$$ FOR WAR sign now seemed too much like an effort in futility.

After the first arrest in the morning on April 27, I took reprieve for a couple of hours in the 7th floor restroom. The one that is located between the offices of Harkin and Grassley. I wrote a poem about the sanctuary I found there, wrote and delivered a letter to the commander of federal security asking permission to finish taking my photos the following week, and wrote and delivered a letter to Senator Harkin.

I made it to Grassley's office to die for a couple of hours in the afternoon. At 3:30 I moved to Harkin's office, where I had permission to stay until the last person left the office that night. But a security officer came to get me at 5 pm. Now I took sanctuary in the first floor restroom, telling the officer that I would leave when my 5:50 pm phone alarm sounded. The Federal building closes to the public at 6 pm. I proceeded to sit in a corner of the restroom and chant for peace. When I came out at 5:50 and tried to leave peacefully, a federal officer insisted on charging me with something.  He made the call to have me transported to jail for the night, but later cancelled it. He gave me another citation for "failure to comply with an official order."

April 27 was the day it became crystal clear that the federal security officers were preventing me from the peaceful conduct of my business of peacemaking with my senators.

I delivered a letter to the Director of Federal Protective Services the following week, calling for a truce. They never responded to me directly, but they did STOP harassing me in my efforts to lobby my
senators. No body guards following me around, no threats to be taken to jail, no citations, and no more requests to leave the Federal building before the 6 pm closing time.

As you know, the alleged killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S.  forces happened on May 1. I continued to lobby my senators in May, and I added a weekly trip to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, to vigil in support of Bradley Manning. Through 54 Die-Ins I had used my body to try to get my Iowa senators to be our heroes and DO THE RIGHT THING by voting to end the funding of these wars. Now there is someone behind bars here in the Midwest who has acted heroically, and who deserves my bodily support.

On June 9, I won two out of three federal trials for arrests for previous Die-Ins. Since then I have rested, gardened a lot, taken up jogging again after a three-year reprieve, and welcomed a new grandchild into our family. I took a break from the weekly Die-Ins and the Bradley Manning vigils. But I am gearing up to apply all the things I have learned about nonviolence and relationship-building to the October 6 Revolution. Our Tahrir Square. The U.S. people's occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC that begins on October 6.

Please see to consider joining this sustained effort to use people power to get our country back on track toward a livable future. We plan to occupy Freedom Plaza until our demands to
end corporatism and militarism are met. It's time. 

I leave you with this poem:


First they take me to jail.
Then to trial several times.
I appear to lose every time.
I persist with creative lobbying.
54 weekly Die-Ins later, my Iowa Senators Harkin & Grassley still vote
to continue funding the wars.
But real human relationships form during these persistent efforts.
I have made friends with all of Grassley and Harkin's Iowa staff and
many of the DC staffers.
I am friends with the MVM Security officers in the Federal building.
I am friends with all Federal Protective Services officers and their Director.
I am friends with several Des Moines police officers, and instead of
taking me to jail,
... they chose to talk with me instead!
I have stood in front of prosecutors and judges speaking about LOVE.
My only possible conclusion is that the Universe wants PEACE.
She WANTS peace.
My definition of nonviolence = LOVE in Action.

Editor’s Note:
On February 22, 2010, Chris Gaunt began conducting a weekly sit-in at the local offices of her US Senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, in Des Moines, Iowa, urging them to refuse any further funding for war. A number of other local peace activists joined Chris in conjunction with The Peaceable Assembly Campaign. As part of the sit-ins which took place during office hours, Chris made a point of connecting with the office staff, person-to-person, while she endeavored to educate them on the dire urgency of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite these efforts, it was clear that the Senators themselves were not willing to seriously consider voting against war funding or even listen to the rationale that Chris and others were offering. Chris recognized that, to be taken seriously, more had to be done.

On March 11, 2010, Chris changed the weekly peaceful sit-in to a peaceful die-in. She lay down on the floor as if she were dead, with a note explaining that she would remain there until she could get a straight answer from the senator about cutting off funds for the wars. She did this almost weekly for about a year; at times joined by others, at times alone.  She has been arrested nearly every time.

Mother of 6, Wife of Oil Rigger Arrested at BP HQ in NOLA

Cherri Foytlin

by Scopio Rising

Below is a powerful message from Cherri Foytlin on her arrest on Thursday evening, August 4th, in front of BP headquarters in downtown New Orleans. Cherri Foytlin is a native of Louisiana, of Native American descent, and mother of six who walked to Washington D.C. this past Spring to raise awareness that no, BP is not "Making it Right". BP is not "Making it Right" on the Gulf coast, despite their 100 million dollar message/propaganda that has been airing on corporate owned media, over and over again, like a bad hypnotist.

Cherri, like hundreds, possibly thousands along the Gulf coast, were exposed to chemicals associated with the BP disaster: petrochemicals and the Corexit used to "disperse" the oil.Folks have become seriously ill from this exposure and are getting no help from their government or BP. Cherri is in the orange tee shirt in the photo. On August 4th, she began sitting alone in front of BP headquarters at 1250 Poydras in downtown New Orleans, but soon, others joined her.

The day before yesterday, on August 4, 2011, one year after the President of our United States stood on national television and said that 75% of the oil that had spewed into our Gulf was gone, I was booked into the New Orleans Parish Police lock-up with the charge of Criminal Trespassing.

The day before, I had been called by the Louisiana State Police Department to come to a meeting with them to discuss the Non-violent Direct Action Protest that myself and a united group consisting of environmentalists, community organizers, fishermen and clean-up workers, had organized in front of the British Petroleum offices, which are on the 13th and 14th floor of 1250 Poydras in NOLA.

At that meeting, I was told that we were allowed on the sidewalk only. That there would be plain clothed officers among us, and that if we crossed a certain line, which runs from the building to the parking lot, we would be arrested. The detectives, very nicely, drew us a map to explain the exact whereabouts of that line.

When we got to the event, which at the beginning had nearly 100 in attendance, I made the announcement that I was going to cross that line. And that I was doing this in protest of the so many lines that BP has crossed, in my mind, concerning the cleaning up of their mess, the spraying of toxic chemicals in our water, the murder of 11 of our energy providers, the disrespect and economical damage to our fishermen and residents, and the denial of and lack of response to health issues and claims since April 20 of last year.

So, I intentionally crossed that invisible line and took their tar balls back to them - a box full that had been picked up our beaches that day, (with no clean-up workers in sight, I might add). At least 15 other people chose to go with me, to complete this task.

As we approached the front door, we were met immediately by a representative of the company, the building and a security guard. Together they refused us any access to the building, citing that all BP workers had been dismissed for the day - a fact I knew to be untrue, because the state police had told me at our previous meeting that although most would be sent home at 4:30 that day, some would be available until 5:30, (at the time that they had told us this, they were trying to facilitate a meeting between us and BP - to which we had said was only an option it Feinberg and Zimmer was in attendance, and to which BP had refused to consider).

Being unable to enter the building, we dropped the tar balls on the sidewalk (in plastic), and sat down directly in front of the doors, where others came to join us.
And that was where we stayed.

In the mean time, kind people from within our group brought us waters and other refreshments in order to make our stay more comfortable. So, naturally, it was not very long before I personally had to urinate.

A very respectful gentleman from the state police had come forward to negotiate, just as he had the day before at the meeting in the SBI offices. I asked him, jokingly, if he thought they would just let me in to pee. He said no and that “They were freaking out in there.”, but pointed out that there were portable toilets just beyond the fence in a nearby hotel construction site.

After a few minutes, I felt it calm enough at that moment - since all BP representatives, building security and police personnel were discussing the issue inside, (excluding the one member of the state police that, at that time, was sitting with us), I could go use the restroom quickly, and come back.

So, I did. I jumped the fence and used the facilities. Upon my return jump, I realized that the BP reps in the building had seen me go and went running to find me, perhaps thinking I had looked for an alternative route into the building.

And that they had taped me jumping the fence and notified the nearby construction site mangers of my trespassing. We believe that they had hoped that the other owners would have had me arrested for trespassing and kept the BP name out of the incident. You see, arresting and charging people for bringing to light their negligence and lack of response sort of blows that whole “making it right” image.

But, the people next door had no interest in arresting me, or anyone else. We have more allies than they, or even we, know - you see?

I then joined the others in sitting, which we continued for over all around 3 hours until a little after 8:00 pm, which is when - after negotiating tirelessly, and being very respectful with us all day, the New Orleans Police Department and the Louisiana State Police gave us one more chance to end the protest and go home before arrests were made.

At that final refusal, NOLA PD, quietly came forth and arrested the 3 of us, who had remained seated.
Truth is, I knew that I personally was going to get arrested if I stayed sitting there, I knew that. And this was a decision that had not been made lightly on my part.

Over the last year and nearly a half I have studied past movements that have worked on different levels. And thanks to those who have come before us, we have a general formula for affecting change.

According to Dr. King, mainly from his letters while he, himself, was sitting in an Alabama jail, he said that the progression includes the following:

- To find out if an injustice exists - without doubt we, the people of the Gulf, have been dealt with very unjustly with regards to this corporation and our government’s handling of this event, as well as others across the Gulf.

- To negotiate - we, the residents, fishermen, clean-up workers, tourism industry workers, oil workers, community organizers, etc., have negotiated on the local, state and federal levels with the HHS, the CDC, the NOAA, the EPA, the GCERT, the CEQ, the DEQ, the Oil Spill Commission, the Administration, and BP itself for nearly 16 months - to little or no avail.
- Dr. King’s next step was to “self-purify” - each person must take this step alone. Personally, I had first interpreted this step as the ending of bad habits, such as social drinking. But on the walk I realized that he was talking about preparing your mind against egotistical illusions, self-doubt and self-pity.

- The last step is action. And in the successful civil rights movement, as well as the Eastern Indian movement for independence, that meant non-violent action and civil disobedience taken against the oppressors in order to advance the cause of, and bring to light the call for, justice and liberty.
Our being arrested, was just the first step of that last phase.

Now, while I was sitting there I had a good friend of mine, who is very sick from the toxins still in his system and our environment, say to me, “Cherri, it is not worth getting arrested.” He was begging me not to take that final step. He did that, because he loves me, and he did not wish to see me suffer, I understand that - and it warms my heart. But my response to him was, “My friend, you are so worth getting arrested for.”

You see that is what we all must understand. You, my friend, are worth it. Our ecosystem is worth it, our kids are worth it, our future is worth it.. We must understand the value of what we have and be determined in protection of that. We must take up responsibility to, and for, each other now, in these times. Because, we are all worth it.

As we sat there, we repeatedly looked across the crowd and saw testament to that notion; such as, the poster my 9-year-old had made of her depiction of Earth with pollution dotting it, and the eyes of the people who were sick from chemical poisoning and yet had still come out to take a stand, calloused hands of a fishermen, community organizers who we have all seen at events from Texas, to Florida, to D.C. - demanding, begging sometimes, to be heard on behalf of the communities and ecosystem that they love. And we saw grandmothers and grandfathers, daddies and mommies, and sisters and brothers, all united in the simple humanitarian right of clean air and water.

One person in particular, Kimberly Wolf, a warrior woman who I have had the honor of getting to know early on in this fight, and who also has terminal cancer, yet got out of her bed and joined us for as long as she could - strengthened our souls. She is the picture of strength and love in all of this - and in seeing her, I have never been so moved by an example of commitment and perseverance.

That is the epitome of what this event, and our arrest, was about. That there is hope, we have allegiance to each other, that the loss of one does not and will not end the journey of the whole for truth, justice and recompense of the human rights violations that are taking place in our homeland.

Cherri Foytlin is placed in squad car.
There are so many to thank for the success of the day. I would especially like to recognize Kyle Nugent and Noah Learned, who I had not met prior and yet went all the way on behalf of our people and coast. The people who helped in organizational duties, too many to name here - but in particular Karen S, Ada, Devin, Josh, Mary-Margaret, Anne, Elizabeth, Robert--there are so many--including the people who were at the event(s) of last week, and/or are still working on this issue, or others like it. You are all my heroes.

I would also like to make clear, that the New Orleans Police Department and the Louisiana State Police Department were very kind in their treatment of us before, during and after our arrest. The first thing I was told after getting in the car was, “Why didn’t you just go home, Miss Cherri? None of us wanted to arrest you.”

They also took the handcuffs off as soon as we arrived at the station, and made sure we were as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

So, there you have it.

I want you all to know, that we will not stop. We will not stop until our fishermen, our workers, our families, our wildlife, our waters, our region - are made whole again. Because when you love something, when you really do, you will never be silenced in protecting and fighting for it.

There will be further opportunities for those caring souls across the nation to stand with us for justice. Be ready.

You see, THAT is the greatest weapon in our tool box, that is what will win this and so many other battles we have been called to participate in, it’s our LOVE that will carry the day.

On August 4 we took our first stand. Courage, my friends, this is just a beginning.

Yours truly,
Cherri Foytlin

P.S. - BP has a response to the event, which is further proof that we made a wave, I cannot find the link at the moment but will update when I can. They said something like, “we are still here too“. It would be nice if a response was made by you to the author and to every journalist, and person, who needs to learn more about the truth of what is happening in America’s Gulf Coast.

Here is the link mentioned in the above paragraph