Peace Notes: Code Pink at Camp Pelosi, Arrests at SF Federal Building

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 27, 2007

With screaming pink banners and a clear message demanding an end to the war in Iraq, from three to 50 Code Pink women and their supporters could be found over the past two weeks camped out in Pacific Heights in front of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s home. 

“People were feeling a need to express their frustration,” Bay Area Code Pink spokesperson Cynthia Papermaster told the Daily Planet, speaking by phone from her Berkeley home on Monday morning. “We’ve been betrayed by the Democratic Party.” 

While the daily vigil in front of Pelosi’s house has ended, protesters will return on weekends until Pelosi meets with the group, Papermaster said. 

Pelosi’s push to get the House Democrats to pass the $100 billion supplemental war-spending package infuriated these activists. “That’s giving Bush exactly what he wants,” Papermaster said, contending that by using a “signing statement”—through which the president rejects parts of bills passed by Congress—Bush can justify ignoring the timetable for troop withdrawal. 

Code Pink is at www.bayareacodepink.org. 


Stiff penalties for Iraq protesters 

While Camp Pelosi protesters were able to avoid arrest, Berkeley resident Sally Hindman has been arrested four times with other members of a religious coalition when they have blocked San Francisco Federal Building doors during their monthly protest. 

“I feel very strongly [against the war in Iraq] out of my Quaker faith,” Hindman said, noting the hundreds of thousands who have been killed, injured and maimed. “I feel like I have to make a statement with my body.” 

The prosecution in federal court in San Francisco, however, has also made a statement. While people committing civil disobedience are usually given the choice of paying a fine or doing community service if they plead guilty without trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Owens has disallowed community service, said Hindman, who has collected four $125 tickets.  

“They’re trying to discourage protests,” says the group’s attorney Dennis Cunningham, famous for representing protesters at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and more recently, Earth First activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in their civil rights suit against the FBI.  

The cases of the arrestees, among whom are Carolyn Scarr of Berkeley and Fr. Louis Vitale of San Francisco, may end up in court, Cunningham said.  

The next San Francisco “die-in” to protest the war will be April 5 at the San Francisco Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave. 


Barbara Lee votes against war spending 

Rep. Barbara Lee, Berkeley-Oakland, voted Friday against the billion dollar spending bill to fund the war in Iraq, passed by her Democratic colleagues at the insistence of Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Also opposing the bill were Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Diane Watson, Los Angeles, Lynn Woolsey, Petaluma, Dennis Kucinich, Ohio, John Lewis, Georgia, Mike Michaud, Maine and Michael McNulty of New York. Two Republicans, Ron Paul of Texas and John Duncan of Tennessee also opposed the bill. 

“As someone who opposed this war from the beginning, I have voted against every single penny for this war and found myself today in the difficult position of having to choose between voting against funding for the war or for establishing timelines to end it,” Lee said in a written statement. 

“While as a matter of conscience I cast my vote against the funding, I hope that the passage of this bill marks the beginning of the end of the Iraq war, but the real fight still lies ahead.”