I joined CodePINK because they combine my love of public stunts with my dislike of the war. Protesting in lingerie? Demonstrating at a Governator fundraiser? Hanging a banner off a freeway? Sign me up. I don’t necessarily believe that doing a visible action will end the war faster, but I do believe that it reminds people that each and every citizen has the same quiet ability to vote for peace.
Today, we did a banner drop off the 10, directed at the Westbound traffic heading to the beaches. The picture at right isn’t the same drop; it’s from a 2004 drop, but you get the idea. The one we dropped today said CELEBRATE AMERICA: FIRE BUSH. It was perfect timing, because half an hour after we dropped it, the traffic snarled and we had a captive audience.
And amazingly, we were out there for two hours before the cops finally told us to pull the banner in. And it wasn’t even a cop, but a Santa Monica Community Service officer, a woman who was too lazy to even park and get out of her car, but instead, yelled at us from across the street while cars backed up behind her. She radioed the police, and the real Santa Monica policeman was very nice about it. He told us that he agreed we had rights and freedoms and free speech, but that did not extend to hanging a banner over the freeway. Our spokewoman thanked him for his community service, we took down the banner, and that was that.
Still, in those two hours, we’d seen three CHiP motorcycles, two LAPD and three Santa Monica police cruisers go by underneath our overpass. The Santa Monica police had even driven right past us without stopping. The police, it seems, either don’t have the time and energy to bother with CODEPINK’s little pranks, or, more likely, agreed with us. Cops have told me before, while I’m stopped for violations, that they agree with the anti-war sentiments on my backpack/pins/T-shirt.
It was definitely a fun, heartening morning. Thousands of people saw us, and hundreds honked and whooped and waved in support. People gave us the thumbs up from convertibles, the goat-horns from Harleys, and waved their entire arms out of minivans. Three years ago, there was as much backlash as there was support, and even last summer, we ran into some very vocal pro-war, pro-Bush supporters, but this summer, it seems things have turned. Before we dropped the banner, we chatted for a few minutes with an older man who told us he was a Vietnam vet, and added that he thought things would change before the end of the year. I certainly hope so. But until those changes come to pass, CODEPINK will be reminding everyone that nothing will change unless we all have the courage to speak out. Which, really, is what the Fourth is all about, right?