Code Pink Takes Direct Action from Inside the RNC

Anti-war activists infiltrate convention with messages of peace

| September 2004

NEW YORK -- As Republican Delegates held signs proclaiming 'Arnold!' during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, Medea Benjamin brought a more profound message to the Republican leadership. Coming within fifteen feet of Vice President Cheney, Benjamin unfurled a sign reading, 'Be Pro Life, Stop the Killing in Iraq,' before she was grabbed, handcuffed, and, in the words of Benjamin, 'flown out of there.' She was taken to an undisclosed location in the basement of Madison Square Garden, questioned, detained, and finally released onto the street with strict orders never to return.

Another, more quiet form of protest marked the end of the convention. As delegates, fresh from Schwartzenegger's pro-Bush speech, marched into the comparatively fresh air, they were greeted by Fernando Suarez del Solar, who silently held a pink sign showing a young man's face and the reading, 'Bush Lied, My Son Died,' Suarez's son Jesus was killed in battle on March 27, 2003, at the age of 20. His was one of the first fighting deaths of the war. Fernando Suarez, who traveled from San Diego to protest the war in Iraq, encountered few problems while making his statement. 'Most people don't say nothing. Some people say, 'I'm sorry.' Only one person has said 'Get Out of Here.' People give me respect.' Suarez and his pink-clad protest partner Nancy Mancias eventually attracted the attention of security, who circled the two and began questioning them on the specifics of their press credentials. At that moment, a member of a Spanish language television network claimed the two as part of their network and escorted them upstairs to be interviewed. After the interview, security escorted Suarez and Mancias out of Madison Square Garden.

Fresh from her release, Benjamin summed up the night's actions with quiet but enthusiastic resoultion. 'The lesson from tonight is that the system is not impenetrable -- the system has cracks that you can get in. I think people need to know that they should protest on the outside, but that they should also protest on the inside. Let's be serious. Innocent people are being killed in Iraq. We'll keep on doing this whether Bush or Kerry is in the White House.'

Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor

Like this? Want more?Subscribe to Utne magazine