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Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2003 at 10:23 PM
Civil disobedience targets weapons manufacturer in El Segundo.
Twelve people were arrested this morning when they blocked the intersection of Nash St. and El Segundo Blvd. in front of Raytheon Corporation, in an act of civil disobedience against an American war on Iraq.
They were part of a demonstration in El Segundo showing how U.S. tax dollars spent on bombs built by Raytheon and other corporations will not only kill innocent Iraqis, but will also lead to cuts in education, health, public safety, veterans benefits, school lunch programs, and civil liberties here at home.
Raytheon’s deeply disturbing slogan, “We own the kill chain,” was one of the messages highlighted at this morning’s demonstration (http://www.raytheon.com/missions/precision).
The event began at 10 a.m. when about 75 protesters assembled on the corner of Nash and El Segundo. 25 of them joined in a street theater piece on the sidewalk where “George Bush” symbolically took apples away from children, social security checks from the elderly, trashed the bill of rights, and even pulled crutches out from underneath an injured man. Each time one of these was taken away from an American, a Raytheon bomb flew over the White House and landed on the head of an Iraqi, who fell dead. A narrator explained the cost to U.S. taxpayers for Raytheon products such as Tomahawk and Sidewinder missiles, and what those funds could be better used for at home.
As the theater piece ended, twelve of the activists walked to the Raytheon driveway where they stood holding hands, blocking the entrance. They sang “Give Peace a Chance” and “We Shall Overcome” and other familiar songs of protest and defiance. The police blocked El Segundo Blvd. and appeared ready to wait the protesters out.
At 10:25 the protesters walked across the intersection and blocked all five lanes of traffic coming from Nash St. At 10:35 the El Segundo Police declared it an unlawful assembly. Arrests began a little after 10:40. Each of the twelve was arrested individually and escorted up Nash to the cheers and ululations of bystanders. They were taken to a van waiting behind a nearby fire station.
Not to be outdone, El Segundo Police also engaged in a bit of their own street theater. Just after the first person was arrested, fifteen officers in riot gear lined up across Nash, about half a block from where the activists were blocking the intersection. On a mark from one of the officers, they ran down the street and lined up between onlookers on the sidewalk and the line of civil disobedients. At one point they were counted off by twos by a superior, then performed a synchronized pirouette and trot across two lanes. It’s unclear whether this was intended to intimidate, or was simply a performance for the large media contingent on the scene.
The demonstration was organized by the Pasadena office of the American Friends Service Committee (http://www.afsc.org/conscience/Default.shtm) as part of the nationwide Iraq Pledge of Resistance (http://www.peacepledge.org/resist/default.shtm).
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