Mic Check! Exposing Maria Cantwell and the National Defense Authorization Act

By Emma Kaplan 

What a night! I went down to Occupy Seattle at Seattle Central Community College last Friday, and met some folks who were going to protest US Senator Maria Cantwell at the Paramount Theater. They told me that Maria Cantwell voted for the National Defense Authorization Act.  And yes, she is a democrat. The National Defense Authorization Act essentially enables the military to round people up (including American citizens) and hold them indefinitely. 

Some of the organizers said they felt this act is a major attack on civil liberties and further shredding the Constitution.  We decided it was important to wake people to the truth.  We had made signs on the spot that read “Shame on Maria Cantwell”, and “Stop Indefinite Detention Here and All Over the World”.

Hundreds of people were waiting in line to get in to Cantwell’s talk, and our discussions with them generated a lot of controversy.

Many people were shocked that Maria Cantwell voted for this, while others had no idea what the NDAA actually was.  Some people said they agreed with us – “but things would be worse if a republican was in office”. I told them it doesn't matter who is in office, it matters what is happening in the streets. We don't control the elections anyway, the elections control us!

Some people were incredibly hostile because they could not stand the idea of people criticizing the Democrats. One person had the audacity to tell a Black man who was part of our crew to "go back to Africa."! If we had been criticizing these same policies under Bush to this crowd, it wouldn’t have been controversial at all - but somehow if a Democrat is carrying this out, people learn to accept it.  It reminds me of a quote by Bob Avakian in the book BAsics: “If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.” 

A college student who majored in history joined us on the spot, and challenged people to think critically about the democrats and  to "wake up!" Two people came up to us out of the line off of our signs and soapboxing and gave us 2 tickets to go inside. There were more than a couple people waiting in line who had 99% stickers on.  While me and an occupier named Salvador were waiting to go in, he started talking to me about the war on terror.  The military had attempted to recruit him when he was in high school and he was seriously considering joining but a military veteran told him not to do it.  He has another friend who toured Iraq who is "just not the same" after coming back. He talked about how the whole war on terror is just bullshit, that the powers that be want to instill fear in people, and how they are after the resources of people in that region of the world. 

When Maria Cantwell starting speaking, I yelled Mic Check and began exposing the National Defense Authorization Act, why it was wrong, and the need for people to oppose it. Some people started chanting "6 more years", meaning 6 more years of Democrats  (and essentially 6 more years of war, torture indefinite detention, etc) One guy tried to choke me while another person attempted to cover my mouth with his hand. 

At the same time, there were other people who pointed at me and stood up and said yes I agree with you, and others who clapped and gave the thumbs up. We got dragged out pretty quickly but we shouted about the NDAA the whole way. We left to go up to the college to upload our video.  One of the other protesters told us that one guy came out and asked if they were with that girl who disrupted Maria Cantwell because of the NDAA. He said, "Yes I was really offended about that." The protester asked what he meant and he said, “I was really offended that Maria Cantwell voted for that."   

 

 

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