Cindy Sheehan Goes to Washington
Cindy Sheehan. (photo: Cindy Sheehan)
Reader Supported News | Interview
n August of 2005, Cindy Sheehan breathed new life into the anti-war movement when she set up camp outside of George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
In March of 2010, she hopes to once again breathe new life into a beleaguered movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sheehan and others from a new organization called "Peace of the Action" will start setting up camp on the National Mall in Washington, DC on March 13.
In a recent interview with Reader Supported News, Cindy Sheehan was very critical of the way the movement put its energy into the election of Barack Obama:
"Unfortunately, I feel that the movement that grew up around the Camp Casey protests was misused to elect Democrats, and we have seen since 2006, the Democrats have done nothing to end the wars, or even put a dent in them. The Dems fully funded Bush's wars and refused to hold him accountable for starting them in the first place.
An even greater tragedy occurred in the anti-war movement when it supported and helped get Barack Obama elected, even though he was strongly in favor of sending more troops to Afghanistan and was very pro-military strength."
When asked about the recent silence of many who opposed the war in the past, Cindy responded by saying:
"First of all, it's very tiring to do this day in and day out. It takes a lot of energy and commitment to one's vision - and secondly, it's like I said, the energy is being misused to work in electoral politics instead of movement politics.
It's easier to elect someone and 'hope' that he/she will do the heavy lifting, but we can never abdicate that responsibility."
When asked if Progressives have a better chance of reaching Obama than Bush, she replied:
"I think if we are organized and courageous, Obama will have to respond to the pressure from Progressives. I fear, though, that Progressives will do what they always do - let the politicians call the shots because the Progressives are so afraid a Republican may be elected - however, unless the electorate stands firm, the politicians will never change."
When asked "Why Washington and why now?" Sheehan answered:
"Washington is the heart of this Empire, and we must strike at the heart to disable it.
There is a complete Democratic tyranny in the Federal government right now - so let's go to DC and see if they will actually accede to the demands of the party's anti-war base. And the wars have gone on too long. One day was too long, but soon, we will be heading into the 10th year. Too many lives, money and resources have already been wasted."
Peace of the Action's web site has the following call to action:
We've marched, written, called and faxed but the wars continue.
It is time for new creative strategies and bolder action.
Peace of the Action will bring forward a historic escalation of Peace Activism like we have not seen in the United States in a very long time.
We cannot allow business as usual go on in the Capital of the American Empire.
On a daily basis, Peace of the Action will perform courageous deeds of civil resistance until our demands are met.
Sheehan is optimistic that many will join her in Washington:
"I am always optimistic, but even if we have a handful, we will do what we can with the people we have, and if our fellow citizens really want the wars to end and can tie in the horrible state of the economy with the obscene amount of money that has been spent on these wars, I know the movement will grow. I have seen more and more young people becoming involved - I also have a very active presence on social networking sites, and all of the young people are very politically savvy and dedicated to true and positive change."
Camp Out Now, the signature event of the group, will begin with the building of the camp on March 13 on the lawn of the Washington Monument, and actions will begin on Monday, March 22.
When asked if the encampment would be permitted by the National Park Service Sheehan replied:
"We are seeking permits for the first week when we are setting up the Camp - after that we will claim our 1st Amendment rights to peaceably gather and express ourselves."
The group hopes to draw thousands of people to Washington to participate in daily acts of civil disobedience.
When asked if the actions would be non-violent Sheehan was clear that that Peace of the Action is:
"Requiring that the people who come to Camp to participate sign our non-violence agreement." She went on to say, "We will have trainings on a daily basis and the core group will be very committed to not only modeling non-violence but monitoring the actions of our colleagues."
Cindy also made it clear that there will be plenty for people to do who are not willing to risk arrest:
"Arrest is not mandatory for Peace of the Action - each participant can be involved as far as they are comfortable. Each day we will be doing civil resistance, but we envision flash actions where people can block or disrupt, and then leave - or they can stay and risk arrest."
We also asked Cindy to take a look back on the last five years:
"The highlights were the days at Camp when it really seemed possible that our energy would end the wars. I was so naive - the low points would have to be when the Democrats took over control of both houses and the people who supported the movement started to attack me because I was still criticizing the wars - when I ran against Pelosi and almost every single one of my Progressive friends abandoned me.
Now, it's almost five years later and our nation is still at war, and our civil liberties are still being stolen at an alarming rate.
I have learned so much over the years - and the mistakes of Camp Casey will not be repeated, but we do have a very steep uphill road to travel, because the pro-war people under Bush are still pro-war - and the anti-war people under Bush are not so much anti-war any more now that Obama is President.
Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat."
Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
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