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Blood spilt to protest Mideast violence

By Devona Walker, Daily Planet Staff
Friday April 12, 2002

Yesterday morning a woman drenched in blood locked herself to the entrance of City Hall demanding that city officials draft a resolution condemning the killing of “babies in Babylon.” 

Susan B. Rodriguez, a local anarchist, said she and three friends drew their own blood and stained her clothes with it, to “shock and educate America’s desensitized society” about the increasing violence in the Middle East.  

“I did it because it needs to be announced to the world that we condemn the whole thing, especially when it comes to children — it’s sad that our children even have to see this blood,” Rodriguez said. “And we all have blood on our hands if we stand still for it. 

“What I said was it’s a ‘Sad day in Babylon when children are blowing themselves up to stop a war. Shame, shame on you, you bastards,” she added, speaking specifically of recent youthful suicide bombers.  

In February, the Israel Security Agency, in cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces, arrested a 17-year-old boy allegedly on his way to carry out a suicide attack against IDF soldiers in Gaza. The boy, Anwar Ahmed Abd al Halak Hamed, was a member of the Abu Rish faction of the PLO's Fatah and admitted that he had intended to attack a motor convoy on the coasttal road.  

On March 30th, an 18-year-old Palestinian girl named Ayat al-Akhras carried a bomb into a supermarket and successfully ignited it killing herself and 17-year-old Rachel Levy.  

Rodriguez said the blood was necessary to remind people here at home what it looked like. 

She made two demands, before giving up the City Hall entrance way. She demanded to speak with Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean and demanded a proclamation condemning the war. 

Rodrgiquez said she felt victorious in the end because both her demands were met and she “held City Hall” for an hour and a half. 

Rodriquez arrived at City Hall at approximately 8:00 a.m. and remained there until 9:30 a.m., stopping city workers from entering through the east doors. But city workers did enter city hall through the other side of the building and the workday was not disrupted due to the demonstration. 

When Dean arrived on the scene, Rodriguez was reportedly calm and cooperative. 

“Other than her appearance there was nothing very alarming. She spoke quite calm and i told her I could certainly agree to a letter and to a proclamation condemning the war, but that I could not agree on any specific wording,” Dean said. 

Dean said she will work on some language for such a proclamation and bring the issue up at the next convenient council meeting. 

“I figure everybody in the city is for peace so we can find some language to express those sentiments,” Dean said. 

But Dean did tell Rodriguez that she would prefer to have future conversations in the office and not out on the steps.  

Berkeley has received national attention at times in the past for choosing to cast votes on international issues that they have no jurisdiction over.  

But Rodriguez said she feels it is Berkeley’s responsibility to do so.  

“It’s our birthright as Berkeleyans. We were the first to speak out on many of the issues that people have in life today,” Rodriguez said. “And in the least, this will keep the platform.”