Conviction and Courage in the Face of the Obama Disconnect: Speaking Truth inside D.C.’s Union Station

 

By Jill McLaughlin
What is one to do when so many good people who opposed the crimes of illegal invasions and occupations and the war crime of torture are now about to accept these very crimes under a new President? One is not to join in with the celebrations around the inauguration as so much of the anti-war movement is doing.  What is one to do when there is a disconnect  of the projections of peace,justice,and change onto a man, who today in his inaugural speech, repeated his campaign promise of a continued so called “war on terror”? One is not to “wait and see” if he will deliver the “hope and change” the people really want.
Nor is one to “wait and see” if people will wake up to the disconnect between what they want and what is actually being promised them, or whether people accept what is being delivered them by President Obama.
 

Instead when such promises of continued wars of terror are being made it is a time to continue the resistance that is needed in the face of this. And a group of activists who recognized this moment gathered at D.C.’s Union Station and brought into sharp focus the disconnect between what the people of this country and the world hope for and what Obama has promised. For a solid hour a dramatic action was led by World Can’t Wait and joined by members from Arrest Bush, and Code Pink. They all risked arrest to reach over 10,000 people passing through Union Station the day before Obama’s Inauguration. 

The action began with activists gathering in the shopping area of the station and freezing into place. After several minutes of those passing by having to maneuver around those frozen in place a buzz began and those passing by began to take notice, take photos, and take signs that read “Stop the U.S. War of Terror & Torture! The World Can’t Wait, “Stop Occupying Iraq and Afghanistan! Stop the Assault on Gaza!”, “Prosecute the Bush War Crimes!”, “No Common Ground with Bigot Rick Warren!”  World Can’t Wait activist Raphael began to speak on the bull horn about the how the so called “war on terror” is a war of terror and empire and that the people of this country must take on the responsibility of stopping it. He then told the gathering crowd that the people frozen in place would be falling to the floor to represent those who have been tortured and killed in the U.S. war of terror and that this particular action was a die-in.  He counted to one backwards from 10 and the activists dramatically fell to the floor.  A larger crowd began to gather and on the floor above a crowd began to form around the railing. The police showed up and began forming a circle around those on the ground and began telling passerby to keep moving, but once they discovered there were just too many people they allowed for people to take a picture and then go.
For well over 15 minutes the activists remained on the ground.  Another WCW activist, Emma, then came forward and agitated about the disconnect between the hope and change the people want to see and what President Obama has been saying about leaving troops in Iraq until 2013, increasing the military, and putting more troops in Afghanistan. Another activist talked about the need to prosecute Bush for the war crimes committed in our names and that the people must demand that Bush be prosecuted.  Activists began to rise after about 15 minutes, but Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait national director remained on the floor and two others remained on the floor.  After another 15 minutes she rose and took the bullhorn.  With her voice cracking with emotion at times she highlighted the devastation that the U.S. war of terror has brought to the people of the world from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Gaza. She put forth to the crowd a challenge to take on the responsibility of not accepting the terms of the so called war of terror no matter who the President is. Elaine Brower whose son is on his third tour in Iraq spoke with such eloquent emotion about what this war of terror has force young men and women in the military to do to innocent people and what it in turn has done to their psyches.
We don’t know how many people we woke up but we know that what we did was right and is needed now more than ever with two wars continued in our name and with other wars looming on the horizon and the very real danger of torture committed by one President being forgiven and being accepted by the people under the new President.  There are those in and out of World Can’t Wait who refuse to accept these terms and we will not stop until there is a movement in this country that stands up to the U.S. War of terror and torture and says “enough” no matter who the President is.