Standing in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building today at noon, I was overcome by a feeling of awe and joy. About 20 of us had managed to carry out a complex, beautiful action-bringing our message of peace to our Senate—in almost flawless fashion. For about 30 minutes, we liberated the HART Building in a display of non-violent direct action at its finest….
First, on each of five floors, women perfectly aligned themselves by the elevator balconies. At the designated moment, they took off their jackets. Each had on a pink tunic with one letter. When they draped the tunics over the railing, from the top floor down, it spelled NO WAR. To our amazement, no police rushed over immediately to grab their signs and threaten to arrest them, as has happened on many other occasions in the same building. This time, the women stood there boldly, flashing peace signs and gently swaying.
A few minutes later, another group of women unfurled one of the signature "pink slips" we make for people we'd like to fire. This one was a gorgeous 40-foot banner in the shape of a woman's slip, with HUGE lettering saying VOTE PEACE, FIRE BUSH. Made of hot pink fabric surrounded with frilly white lace, it hung majestically from the 5th floor down to the 3rd floor. As soon as the women successfully unfurled it and tied it securely on top and bottom, two other banners appeared. The one below said Give Peace a Vote. The one next to it called for Peace on Earth.
Looking up at this amazing vision of serenity and peaceful energy warming the cold halls of Congress, those of us in the lobby started signing. First softly, very softly, then louder and bolder. The people above us holding the banners starting joining in and suddenly the joyful sounds of peace echoed throughout the building. WAR IS OVER, IF YOU WANT IT; WAR IS OVER, IF YOU WANT IT. John Lennon would have been proud. So would Yoko Ono. Over and over and over again, we kept singing. I started to cry-it was so overwhelming, so powerful. The Senators' aides started streaming out of their offices to see what was happening, many of them smiling, waving and flashing peace signs. It felt like a dream. Was this really happening in the heart of the Hart Building???
We had called the news media beforehand, telling them to come see a beautiful visual but not giving away the precise plans. CNN, FOX and several photographers showed up. Who knows what, if anything, they'll use. We've become so accustomed to the mainstream media ignoring us. But it would be a lovely sight, and sound, for the American people to behold. There is something very visceral about the message that war is over, if you want it. It makes you feel such a sense of responsibility, a sense of power, a sense of possibility. And of course, that's what the American people need to start feeling-that if enough of us want to, we can stop this war and the future ones that are looming ahead.
One reason we felt so empowered was that, for a change, the police were respecting our right to protest. This is the way it should be in a democracy. We've become so accustomed to having our rights violated that it seemed strange—almost surreal—to maintain our ground for enough time to have our message heard.
When the police did start giving people warnings that they would be arrested, we stopped. Elated, we descended to the lobby, hugging and kissing and grinning ear to ear. We formed a circle, held hands and sang some more. And when the police told us not to press our luck, we broke up and spread around the lobby hugging everyone in sight—the cameramen, the reporters, the senators' aides, even the plainclothes cops. We knew enough not to try to hug an armed officer, but we thanked them profusely.
We later heard from Jesse and Leslie, who had been on the 7th floor displaying the N in NO WAR, that the policeman on their floor had been very patient with them. When they thanked him, he replied somberly, "No need to thank me. My son died in Iraq." Jesse, taken aback, gave his condolences and started to weep. The pain of the war became all too real. So, too, did the need to stop it.
Today something historic happened in the Hart Senate Office Building. For a brief moment, the cold atrium of a government body—a body that ushered us into a disastrous war and is refusing to get us out of it—was peacefully liberated by the people. Now let's liberate the rest of the nation….
(to sign CODEPINK's Give Peace A Vote pledge, please go to http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/codepink/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=295&t=GPV.dwt