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actions & protests | government | imperialism & war m19 2006

Eugene Civil Resistance activists arrested after sit-ins

Sit-ins at the Eugene offices of Senators Wyden and Smith, and Rep. DeFazio, were to protest their continuing votes for funding the war. We want them to vote no on war appropriations, and so far they have been unwilling to do that.
We went first to the Federal Building, where Senator Smith has his office on the third floor. Neither he nor his staff were in residence, and we knew we would not be able to get to the third floor, so we had our sit-in in the downstairs lobby, and a bunch of us, including some spirited high school kids, were arrested.

We then moved on to the building that houses the offices of Senator Wyden and Rep. DeFazio. We found their doors locked, even though there were staff inside each office. There were signs posted saying they were closed for the day, on the advice of some government agency. One of us talked to people in both offices on his cell phone, asking them to come out and talk to us. They refused.

So we sat down in the hallway outside of Wyden's office, read the names of the American and Iraq dead, chanted and made a lot of noise until the building manager called the cops to come arrest us. Which was the plan from the start. I must say the cops were very civil and professional about it. They told us we were under arrest, wrote citations for criminal trespass 2, a misdemeanor, and turned us loose. We all have court dates and are expecting fines, which supporters will pay for those of us who have no money.

Hopefully we're opening a new front in the war on the war. Our approach probably puts us at odds with most of the Eugene peace movement, which appears to be run by hardcore Democrats who will not confront Democrat politicians like DeFazio, even when they vote wrong. We're going to change all that.

The attached photos were taken inside the hallway outside of Wyden's office.

The local evening TV news covered us. I believe they said a total of 17 were arrested.

Try it, feels good. Don't let them get away with ignoring us.
More photos 20.Mar.2006 21:08

Lynn Porter

Most of the photos I tried to send didn't make it. I'll try again.

More photos 20.Mar.2006 21:11

Lynn Porter

Apparently we can only do 3 at a time?

Thank You 20.Mar.2006 21:29

Den Mark, Vancouver

Inspirational. Thank you.

Politicians' staffs are ignorant & rude. Here in Portland, one of us called the DC office of wyden, & was told they'd call back, but they never did. None of the Portland staff came down to talk with us. The aristocrats do not have to answer to the rabble, apparently.

The "rabble" need to rise up!

Further thoughts 20.Mar.2006 21:57

Lynn Porter

I just want to add a couple of things.

First, we had a six hour training session the day before in nonviolent civil disobedience for all of those who were going to participate in this action. You need a tight group of people to do something like this. You need to know that they're behind the idea, willing to follow the script, and won't blow up on you.

Second, I've never done this before and was slightly dreading it, but it really wasn't bad at all, getting arrested. As long as it doesn't cost me money or jail time I'm up for it. If you've been afraid of getting arrested, you might want to try it. But be sure you have support lined up beforehand. Groups like this also need support people who are not willing to get arrested.

It takes organization. If you can't stand organization you would be better off doing something else.

here is my reportback from the portland action 20.Mar.2006 23:15

witness

here is my reportback from the portland action. i was not a participant but a legal observer.

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/336382.shtml

i did not realize that there was a sister action in eugene.

Here is a report from Boston 21.Mar.2006 03:35

Not a fan...

Congratulations to anyone who slows or impedes the U.S. military's work.

A report is posted below (lifted from Infoshop) of actions in Boston. As it shows, organization is always necessary if you plan to sustain campaigns and direct actions. Six hour training sessions in non-violent direct action are NOT necessary to draw people in or prepare them. Those of us who think that pacifism is silly and/or racist can still participate in such actions.

As someone who has occupied and/or disrupted military recruiting centers with pacifists and non-pacifists, let me caution that you don't always have to stick around to get arrested. In one notable action in Portland, two of us helped shut down a center for a day. We walked out when the cops said, "This is your last warning. If you stay, you'll be arrested." The presence of a picket line outside and the threat that we would re-enter caused the place to stay shuttered the rest of the day.
In another action in Portland a decade ago, a group of about twenty-five people entered an office about discussing the action for about five minutes, spray-painted and vandalized it and then left, in the space of about five more minutes. That recruiting center also stayed shut that day. None of the participants were ever identified or arrested.
However, despite Ms. Porter's comments, it is inevitable that some people spend money and jail time before the invasion of Iraq is ended. Some will also get injured as the cops get rough (see below). That's the nature of imperialism - it won't go away without some sacrifice. Telling people otherwise can be dishonest.

I'm glad the actions in Eugene happened. I'm always glad to read about actions in Portland (though politicians there are savvy enough to recognize when their offices are likely to get occupied. The day after a major march is automatically a day for heightened security. It's not that difficult to pick a day when they won't be expecting you to visit.) But the Boston actions probably put a crimp in military recruiting, just when the U.S. Army is especially struggling to supply new troops to send to Iraq.

May many occupations happen so that the occupation of Iraq ends. U.S. troops out of everywhere.

******************************************

Operation: Over Takes Direct Action Against Four Recruitment Centers in Boston, Redecorates Streets and Vehicles. On Monday, March 20, Operation: Over marked the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with direct action against four military recruitment centers throughout downtown Boston.



They included the Tremont Street Recruitment Center and three Reserve Officer Training Corps at Northeastern University, Boston University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The protesters blocked the entrances to the four military recruitment centers and transformed the sidewalk into a collage of messages such as "100,000 Dead for what?", "Military recruiters out of our schools," "Death zone," and "Recruiting the poor to die for the rich." Protesters also drew chalk body outlines to represent the dead, both Iraqi and American.

"We wanted to make sure nobody forgets that both Iraqi civilians and American soldiers are dying everyday," said one activist.

During the festivities, protesters talked to passersby about their feelings on the continuing war. Some stopped and talked, others watched and applauded the efforts of the demonstrators, and some walked by, unconcerned. "It was heartening to see how many people opposed the war and the presence of military in institutions of education," said another protester.

At one point, activists were accosted on their bikes in the middle of the Massachusetts Avenue bridge by police officers in an unmarked car. Six were detained, and refused to cooperate or give any identification. One officer then grabbed and assaulted one of the activists.

After 20 minutes of harassment, the police gave up, and protesters continued on to the MIT ROTC and Tremont Street Recruitment Center to resume their demonstrations.

Meanwhile, some activists rode their bikes all over Boston distributing modified "Support Your Troops" ribbons. Over 200 ribbons were collected, spray-painted black and inscribed with the message "100,000 Dead" accompanied by a peace sign.

"We wanted to show that for some people, life isn't just 'business as usual': our Iraqi sisters and brothers are being killed everyday. The ribbon is also a popular symbol of commodified patriotism: we wanted to transform that into a somber reminder of the consequences of such blind national allegiance," said one of the distributors.

All actions were a part of the Operation: Over campaign of direct action against the war. The campaign was kicked off in January by a network of anarchist youth and students in and around Boston.

More pictures and past actions:  http://operationover.freeyouth.net


Resistance Breaks Out All Over 21.Mar.2006 10:50

m

Greeting to Eugene Resistors from Portland Resisters
We got in to Wyden's office and spent an interesting day. He continues to avoid talking to us.
Arrests were fairly painless. We are feeling an urgent need to continue the campaing. He's in office for a long time, so pressure to OPEN YOUR EYES, SENATOR! is worth the effort.
Yea! Team.
Keep Resisting/Insisting

To: Not a Fan 21.Mar.2006 12:00

Gabe

I agree with you that there will have to be alot of sacrifise and alot of suffering to end the U.S. However You were wrong about heightened security. When I went into the federal building, I simply showed the 2 security gaurds at the front disk, my id. I then reminded them not to work to hard and then just walked around the building until 11:30 when we all met at the office on the 5th floor.

Not a fan... 21.Mar.2006 15:52

Lynn Porter

I disagree about the need for training. People need to be prepared mentally for what could happen, and they need agreement beforehand on how they will respond if there is any violence. People need to feel solidarity with the group and know that if they get arrested there will be support from the group, including paying fines or possible bail.

That said, I don't think we should confuse worst case scenarios with what is likely to happen. People who are afraid of being arrested need to be reassured that the process is likely to be simple and painless. If, that is, you want more than a handful of people to do this.

However, I would support anyone who is willing to put up resistance to the war. Best, instead of debating theory, to just go out and do it.

Resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq - and elsewhere. 21.Mar.2006 17:15

Not a fan...

Dear Ms. Porter,

Resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq is taking place on at least three fronts.

There are the protests and actions being held mainly in the U.S., but also world-wide. Refusal to report, refusal to serve and active resistance within the U.S. military; these protests, slow-downs and - let's be careful in our use of words - mutiny are happening in the U.S., Germany and other bases, and in Iraq. Finally, the main and most militant forms of resistance are the Iraqi people, doing what they can to get the U.S. military and political presence out of Iraq.

Let's look at some of the consequences of protesting the U.S. presence if you are Iraqi and are living in Iraq: Arrest, imprisonment, torture and death.

If you are in the U.S. military and resisting (openly or otherwise) the occupation, here are some of the consequences: Arrest, imprisonment, torture (the stockade and military prisons are not spas) and possibly death (check out the military code for mutiny).

I applaud you and anyone else taking actions of resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. But some are obviously not painless or risk-free.

I hope that everyone who occupied an office gets off with no legal consequences. I hope more people come to the next occupation. I hope that every U.S. representative and senator who is voting for the war gets their office occupied. Frequently.

It is necessary and honest to say that some forms of resistance are far more threatening to the occupation than others. If you're advertising for people to occupy offices by telling them it will be "painless" then also tell them that the lack of pain is because they're mainly white folks who Defazio and Wyden cannot afford to piss off. And because, well because certain forms of protest don't accomplish much and don't change much. I am glad there are people who are standing on street corners and on overpasses, I've been one of them; I send my money to the people who are organizing resistance in the military.

Blockade some recruiting centers, or better yet, some military bases. And yes, I've done both. And yes, I've trained hundreds of people to blockade those bases. And no, we never told anyone it would be painless, since the cops and military police are not trained to be nice. Worst possible case? Some of my friends ended up doing years in federal prison for their anti-war actions. I don't think any of us have any regrets for the jail/prison time that we did. Check Thoreau's response to Emerson on that.

It's not necessary to go to Iraq to resist the U.S. military; they're generally just down the street or across the town. In Oregon, you may have to travel a little ways. But let's continue to be honest with ourselves about what will be necessary to stop the occupation of Iraq.

So I agree with you, Ms. Porter. It's time for more action. But it took a lot of evil and systemic thinking on the part of Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney and others - not merely bad thinking - to get the United States to violate the Nuremberg Doctrine and invade a country which was not planning to invade or attack the U.S. and had no means to do so. It will take a lot of clear, thoughtful and good thinking and arguing among the millions of us who oppose the U.S. empire to get the U.S. out of everywhere.

Not a fan 21.Mar.2006 18:24

Lynn Porter

We seem to be talking about at least two different things. The action we took in Eugene yesterday was democratically decided upon by our group, Civil Resistance. This is the action I'm talking about. Everyone else is, of course, entitled to pursue their own course of action, and I would encourage them to do so. The worst thing is to do nothing.

As for treatment by the police, what I reported is what happened, has happened in the past, and I expect will happen in the future. There certainly are community issues surrounding the Eugene police, but so far we don't have a problem with them. The way we look at it, they are helping us to make our point. Essential actors in the play.

I've noticed that a stock, knee-jerk reaction on this website to any description of an action taken is to say that's not good enough and we should be doing MORE. The simple fact is, there is no action that is guaranteed to stop the war any time soon, or that can be proven to be more effective than any other action. It's not so much what kind of action you do, but that you're consistent and persistent. There is a slow cumulative effect of everything we do. When the war is finally over we won't be able to say for sure what stopped it, probably a large combination of factors. That was true after Vietnam. Common sense, however, tells me that everything we do helps.