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
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