by Editor Kriss Perras
After fifteen years of activism, the anti-war group known for their bright pink shirts, stickers and signs, and of course flashing their breasts at Congress, still draws a huge crowd. This is CODEPINK. Over one hundred people gathered at the private home of a local Venice resident, a place known as the Lantern House, this month to celebrate the group’s anniversary.
“It was on the news that terrorists were taking over the White House. As soon as they found out we were anti-war activists and not terrorists, we were out of the news,” said Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK, about the group’s early protest against the George W. Bush Administration and it’s war in Iraq. “So that day we put death and peace on our bras, took our shirts off, and our bellies said “Read my tits. No war in Iraq.’ And we got the attention of the members of Congress. We went into the hearing room with all the cameras on us with them thinking we were going to take out shirts off again. Instead, we raised a big banner that said ‘The world does not want this war.’”
American journalist Robert Scheer joined in on the celebration with the pink clad women. He spoke on “the need to not fall for lesser evilism.”
“When I was asked to do this, of course I said yes, because otherwise Jodie would have a sit in at my house and disrupt my whole life” Scheer joked to the group as they laughed out loud. “But also Jodie, and I say this to the whole group, has really been my symbol of conscience. She has a great bullshit detector, even if I’m bullshitting. And she will not kid around.”
Scheer went on to read a ten year old article about how “CODEPINK went into Nancy Pelosi’sgarden and yard and angered her neighbors, hanging their clothes from her trees, putting up couches, sofas, chairs and erecting permanent living facilities on her front sidewalk. CODEPINK went to Hillary Clinton and tried to overrun her New York offices. CODEPINK trailed Clinton around Washington, and stormed her at fundraisers. The group targets both politicians on special Websites, pelosiwatch.org and http://www.listenhillary.org .”
“I bring this up as a matter of history and to talk about being consistent,” said Scheer.
This anti-war group is known for its brazen activism. It should come as no surprise that one of its campaigns this month in DC is the Divest Campaign. It will start with a summit in Washington DC on October 20-22, 2017 at the University of the District of Columbia Law School.
“CODEPINK, in partnership with an array of peace and disarmament groups, is launching a divestment campaign to encourage universities, religious organizations, retirement funds, mutual funds, private investors, and other financial institutions in the United States to take action to reduce violent global conflicts and slow the hyper militarization of our world by divesting from the U.S. War Machine,” said the group of their efforts. “Divestment from the War Machine means divesting (removing invested assets) from companies that derive their profits bysupplying and profiting from U.S. military interventions, expansions, and the militarization of ourstreets. In other words, we are calling for divestment from companies that make a killing on killing.”
Friday evening October 20 CODEPINK will gather at the Pentagon for a vigil Pentagon for a commemorative vigil on US responsibility for the rural people, and on the struggles of veterans. Peter Yarrow of the legendary folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, performers at the 1967 rally at the Lincoln Memorial, draft resisters whose cards were turned into the Justice Department on the same date fifty years ago and advocates of taking responsibility for war legacies, will perform that evening.
“Our work since we started CODEPINK has been to shine a light on the Congressional Military Industrial Complex, the lies and the costs paid in the US and across the world,” said Evans. “We do this by disrupting the lies told in Congress, asking the questions that are missing in their hearings and exposing the costs. Our mission is to end wars and bring the money home to the life giving needs of our communities. Our new campaign to divest from the war machine is targeted at those who make a killing on killing. From Universities, to churches, pension funds and banks, people are invested in the weapons companies that make a profit from the $1.4 trillion in sales each year, which in turn drives war globally. US taxpayers fund war and its costs with 65% of their taxes. By focusing on all the costs of war we hope to increase those engaged in working to end it. It destroys our cities, our world and our planet. It we want to loosen the hold of war on our Congress it will take a movement dedicated to ending it; our goal is inspire and strengthen the movement to end war.”
Planned speakers for the remainder of the weekend are Andrew Feinstein, Medea Benjamin, Vijay Prashad, Ajamu Baraka, William Hartung, Jodie Evans, Lisa Renstrom, Larry Wilkerson, Miriam Pemberton, John Qua. CODEPINK has a long history of protesting the war machine and any nuclear action. This group protested at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) Memorial weekend 2006 against the Bush Administration’s upcoming June 2 test of Divine Strake. This was a planned large-scale, open-air explosive detonation of 700 tons of chemical explosives. It would explode on the U16B tunnel complex in Area 16 at the NTS. Divine Strakeis a so-called bunker buster bomb that would have been detonated in an area with well over 1,000 nuclear explosions. The land where the detonation was planned has had nuclear explosive testing since the 1950’s.
“Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by several countries in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in the dispersion of radioactive fallout throughout the northern hemisphere,” cited the National Nuclear Security Administration of the entire region. The NTS is radioactive soil for the next 1,000 years because it was the battlefield testing grounds for the Cold War. A Divine Strake explosionwould have sent a poisoned mushroom cloud into the air that would have covered four states, including California. This military experiment would have taken place 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. CODEPINK, along with the Shoshone Nation who still legally own the land on which the NTS is located due to an ongoing legal battle regarding the treaty they signed with the United States who wanted topurchase the land, raised serious concerns regarding the mushroom cloud and the test on the Shoshone land in general at that time. Hundreds showed up for the protest. Nearly all protesters ended up in the Wackenhut security guard’s chain link pens for having stepped across the property line in protest of the explosion. Inside the women’s security pen, chants of “We want pom poms not bomb bombs” went on for hours in the blazing Nevada summer heat. Sunburned after having put their bodies on the line to stop Divine Strake, CODEPINK and other protesters were met by the Sheriff. He promptly told the protesters one by on their way out of the pens, if this was their first time at the NTS, a historical protest site, don’t be surprised if they didn’t hear from the state of Nevada as they received their ticket for trespassing. In the end, the Bush Administration opted to call off the Divine Strake experiment at the NTS. CODEPINK has had many effective campaigns against war efforts, Divine Strake being just one. Some of their anti-war campaigns include Ground The Drones, demilitarization across the globe, anti-war campaigns for Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and peace with Iran and Palestine.