***I wrote this to the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) but thought many of you might find this interesting as it relates to Spring actions, which are not over***
As many of you know, 51 people were arrested at the Pentagon in the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) action, but what many of you may not know were that there were at least 3 other direct actions taken that day by an affinity group, many of the people in that group are DAWN participants. This affinity group took direct action against the war machine by entering the lobbies of the buildings that house war profiteers Halliburton, Bechtel, and the Carlisle Group. In the case of Halliburton, many of the employees directly witnessed the action. In the case of the Carlisle Group, we had a conversation with a PR person while presenting their company the names of Iraqi dead we believe that they are in part responsible for.
I don’t have time to adequately give our day justice or to talk about all the actions we participated in. We joined the Dorothy Day Catholic Workers at their vigil outside of the Pentagon very early in the morning; we read poems and sang resistance songs in the Metro; we joined the NCNR action from beginning until end; and then we took part in these 3 actions on Monday afternoon. In the end, some of us found time to take in the DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency action at Dupont Circle.
We suffered no arrests; we did not have the media attention that the other action had, but I believe that at least in the Halliburton action, we were effective in letting the war profiteers know that we are willing to take the protest all the way to their doors if we have to. You have to realize that this is Halliburton’s Government Relations office; these are the people who lobby, the ones who help craft policy. They are the ones who are forced to explain why they charge so much money for their services or how they lose taxpayer money. I know that they got the message, but they will only start to take us seriously when we come back again and again and again.
At Carlisle, we spoke with a PR official in their very colonial-style offices, who was happy to talk with us and explain that Carlisle only has about 1% of their hundreds of millions of dollars in the Iraq war. You see, they aren’t so bad. And, he was sure to tell us that he would send along the names of Iraqi dead through their hierarchy (probably on a bulletin board in their office or in what we call here at the office I work, the “cylindrical file” – you can guess what that is!) What negotiation is there in such a farce? The next time I think if we resort to anything so dignified we should throw in the towel. I found that to bethe worst and yet most enlightening of all the experiences.
I found the day to be extremely empowering and not simply because we were able to take direct action that I felt was effective. I found it to be empowering because I was able to share it with a group of people that constantly amaze me and who I feel empowered and exhilarated just to be around.
One of the best things about the day, even, was when sitting down later by the White House (where we had another small action), we talked to a man from Vermont who came down for the weekend. We started enumerating all the actions we had done just in the past few months, and it was staggering. I must admit that before our weekly actions started happening, I was feeling drained and worn out by the process. Now, being in the streets, living out a variety of kinds of actions, from direct action, to teach-ins, to community service projects, I now feel revived by meetings again. I feel good that we in DAWN are developing a sustainable culture of resistance.
There are plenty of criticisms, for sure, of our action, of all the actions that happened throughout the weekend, but I know we’ll find plenty of times to fight those battles out. Right now, I’d prefer to talk about what we did well, and I thought it might be helpful to give a glimpse into our experience. It’s inadequate, but it’s all I have time for right now.
I’ll see many of you tonight, and please join us in the weekly action working group as we plan the next set of actions, including direct action at the World Bank, as well as our continuing service of homeless starting from outside the Canadian Embassy.