Just over a decade ago, at age 18, Adam Eidinger was about as establishment as a young man could be. An Eagle Scout, he was hawkish in his support of the Persian Gulf War. As student body president of Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, he helped to organize a "yellow ribbon" campaign for returning Gulf War vets, then set his sights on attending the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He ended up going to American University instead, and went on to work as a congressional aide.
But that was then. This is Eidinger now:
Standing outside the gates of the White House on Tuesday, he could be heard shouting encouragement to two friends who had chained themselves to the fence in protest of the Bush administration's stance against medical marijuana. He then went to the D.C. jail to help bail them out and later gave them refuge at his home in Adams Morgan.
At age 29 and working as an independent media consultant, Eidinger helps activists plan street theater protests during world economic meetings.
Some of his handiwork will be on display in Washington this week when thousands of demonstrators show up to protest policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Eidinger is also the D.C. Statehood Green Party's candidate for shadow representative in Congress, a position created by the D.C. Council in 1990 to lobby for voting rights in Congress for District residents.
"If elected, I will organize citywide strikes every year until Congress changes the law," said Eidinger, who, on Saturday, helped unfurl a huge D.C. flag made of hemp during a statehood rally at 18th and Columbia roads NW. "Martin Luther King said noncompliance was the way to achieve your goals when you are being denied your rights, and that we only promote the status quo by participating in it."
Eidinger pinpoints his transformation to his days as a congressional aide, especially during debates over the 1994 crime bill -- which broadened the use of the death penalty and sharply increased funds for prison construction.
"I got to see first-hand the racial bigotry and scapegoating of African Americans and Latinos that went into the passage of that bill," Eidinger recalled. "The extent to which politics trumped principles was astounding."
When environmental issues came up, he saw politicians crumble under pressure from big business. "Being from Pittsburgh, I know how desolate a landscape can become and how good, hardworking people can be ruined and forgotten," he said. "On Capitol Hill, I got to see how it's done."
And he could no longer be a part of it.
These days, Eidinger is helping to organize D.C. Critical Mass, a group of bikers who are planning to ride en masse past an Exxon station on Capitol Hill in protest of Big Oil's indifference to global warming.
He also has been churning out news releases praising activists who recently dressed in military garb and threatened to "arrest" Washington-based executives of Caterpillar Inc., whose equipment has been used by the Israeli military to bulldoze the homes of Palestinians.
Eidinger, who is Jewish, came to Washington at age 18 ("I've been disenfranchised since I was able to vote," he said). At American University, he studied the relationships among the United States, Egypt and Israel.
After an extended visit to the Middle East a few years ago, he made plans to live in Israel. But the killing of a relative by a suicide bomber created such intense conflicts between the hawks and doves in his family that he had to cancel those plans.
"The suicide bombings were reprehensible," Eidinger said. "But I also saw Israelis watering their lawns while Palestinians couldn't take a shower. I wanted to do something to bring peace to that situation. But I was unable to go."
In Washington, he has dedicated himself to promoting global justice through Mintwood Media Collective, the consulting company that was started in part with the severance pay he received after leaving Capitol Hill.
"As a Boy Scout, I was taught to be obedient," Eidinger said. "But the oath and pledge also calls for honesty and trustworthiness. I had to make a choice, so I chose to be on the side of truth."
© 2002 The Washington Post Company