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writing for godot

Peace Grannies Bid Farewell to Rockefeller Center

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Written by Joan Wile   
Friday, 16 November 2012 05:23


After nine long years, through snow, sleet, rain, heat and cold, Grandmothers Against the War ended our legendary weekly peace vigil at Rockefeller Center on Nov. 14.

We know that we definitely have not fulfilled our mission, that of bringing all troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we grandmothers, elderly to begin with and now nine years older, simply ran out of strength to withstand the rigors of an hour's vigil. We women, many in our 80's and 90's, attribute old arthritic bodies to our inability to stand up any longer for the time involved.

However, we look back with pride at the historic role we played in helping to launch the anti-Iraq war movement in New York City. Grandmothers Against the War was the first group, very probably, to start a regular vigil specifically aimed at protesting the war in Iraq. Beginning on Jan., 2004, two women stood on the site in front of Rockefeller Plaza on 5th Ave. -- Joan Wile, singer-songwriter, and Judith Cartisano, an attorney and NOW organizer -- on one of the coldest days on record. We wore prominent signs around our necks urging resistance to the conflict and were very nervous at the prospect of citizens then supportive of the war possibly heckling us, spitting at us or even, we feared, hitting us. Fortunately, we were not accosted on that day, but over the first few years, we were heckled many, many times That gradually diminished as more and more people became fed up with our occupations and bombings, and we haven't had a single insult hurled at us for the last two years.

The following week, there were three, the next, six, and it slowly built up to its biggest number, 60 on Oct. 19, 2005, when Cindy Sheehan joined us, and 100 on the occasion of an anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Generally, the vigil had 25 to 35 participants. However, in the past year, the number had dwindled down to 8 or 9, as people got tired, burnt out, sick, or in a few cases, died.

In addition to our much-publicized Rockefeller Center protest, we grannies engaged in a number of other high-profile actions. Most notably, we organized the demonstration at the Times Square recruiting station in Oct., 2005, where 18 grannies tried to enlist in the military in order to replace America's grandchildren at risk in an illegal, immoral war. Denied entrance, we sat down near the recruiting center and, exercising our Constitutional right to peacefully protest, refused to budge when a bevy of New York's finest (police) demanded that we leave. We were arrested and taken to jail in two paddy wagons where we were detained for the rest of the day. The arrest certainly had its humorous aspects -- many of the ladies, including this writer, were simply UNABLE to get up from the ground because of our various arthritic symptoms. However, a few of the cops gently lifted us up -- me, in fact, by my armpits.

We later endured 3 court appearances and, finally, a six-day trial in criminal court. One wonders how the City fathers would have been so clueless as to put a bunch of old ladies on trial for criminal conduct. The resultant publicity did not endear them to the populace!

We were defended by that paragon of integrity, noted civil liberties attorney Norman Siegel (for free, because of his belief in our cause, I might add), and his excellent co-counsel, Earl Ward. They arranged it so that they represented each of us individually, thereby giving everyone an opportunity to put the war on trial as we each explained the opposition to it that motivated us. We were, of course, acquitted of all charges. The story traveled around the world and gained us an opportunity to work more visibly to urge return of all troops.

The 18 grandmothers formed into a subgroup called the Granny Peace Brigade, which has tirelessly championed anti-war causes along with other important issues ever since. Grandmothers Against the War, the Raging Grannies and the Granny Peace Brigade have often worked together through the subsequent years in many fun and serious actions -- a parade across Brooklyn Bridge, a song and dance act in the middle of Times Square, two jaunts to Germany to speak before peace groups, a variety show performed by the women in various venues up and down the East Coast, 100 Grannies Lobby 100 Senators, and other countless and creative demonstrations.

Grandmothers Against the War will continue to pursue its objectives despite ending our vigil. We are still passionately committed to persuading President Obama to leave Afghanistan NOW rather than waiting until 2014, and we will work tirelessly to that end.
We will also be on the alert for an invasion of Iran and other countries and will employ all our resources in opposing such efforts,

You ain't seen nothin' yet!








 

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0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-11-19 08:53
It's ironic to place this article with, a similar one in the MiddleEast,
http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/21-21/14575-sirens-and-protests
 

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