Close Guantanamo Protest 6-26-13

Jo Freeman writes: “Most of the press seems to have overlooked this protest in front of the White House. The Supreme Court decisions had been released only two hours previously, so they were elsewhere.” Freeman, though, was there. Here is her report, illuminating a persistent protest against the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in solidarity with the camp’s hunger strikers . -Jeff

Code Pink co-founder Diane Wilson climbed over the White House fence on Wednesday as part of the ongoing campaign to get President Obama to close Guantanamo. Once over, she stood about five feet from the fence as three armed uniformed Secret Service approached with rifles and a snarling dog. Told to GET DOWN, she was handcuffed and hauled off to jail. The audacity of her feat was enhanced by the fact that she is in the 57th day of a fast in solidarity with the Guantanamo hunger strikers. Unlike the 104 men refusing to eat at Guantanamo, Wilson is not being force fed.

This is not Wilson’s first challenge to White House security. On May 10th she had her neck attached to the White House fence with a special bicycle lock during another Code Pink demonstration. It took the cops two hours to free her neck from the fence. She was arrested, fined $70 and released.

Her latest feat occurred after a noontime rally put together by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in Pennsylvania Plaza. The backdrop to the speakers featured sympathizers in orange jump suits holding the names of those still being held in Guantanamo.

After the rally, participants and observers congregated on the sidewalk in front of the White House for a street theater re-enactment of an “enteral feeding.” Tighe Barry of CodePink pretended to strap “Shraf Masud” of Yemen into a chair and feed him (actually her). Barry usually gets to play the villain in CodePink skits and does so with gusto.

Everyone, including the US Park Police, were so engaged in watching the drama that they didn’t notice Diane Wilson preparing to mount the fence about 100 feet away. Thus, she got all the way over despite the presence of a couple dozen police.

Once the excitement ended, 20 more protestors stood in front of the White House fence, waiting to be arrested. Most wore orange jump suits. Among these were John Pope, who was in day 28 of his sympathy hunger strike and Elliott Adams, who was into his 40th day.

Adams, a past president of Veterans for Peace, was dragged from the group to the curb and handcuffed. He sat there for a while before being escorted out of the area and released without charge. The others were left to sweat in the hot sun for an hour before they were arrested and removed.