WASHINGTON -- January 20 -- As George W. Bush gave his inaugural address in front of the U.S. Capitol, six women peace activists stood up on their chairs in the VIP section and shouted bring the troops home! The women also held up banners reading No War, Out of Iraq Now, and Bush Mandate: Troops Home Now. They were dragged out of the inaugural ceremony by the police, and two of the women are still in police custody.
The killing in Iraq doesnt stop because the inauguration is happening, so our efforts to end the war and occupation cant stop either, said Jodie Evans, one of the women who spoke out during Bushs inaugural address.
Bushs occupation of Iraq has led to needless suffering of US soldiers and Iraqis, increased anti-American sentiment globally, and has made us less safe at home. We spoke out because the Bush administration needs end the occupation of Iraq and its bellicose policy towards Iran and other nations, and instead commit the United States to the rule of lawincluding the US constitution and bill of rights, the UN charter and the Geneva conventions, said Medea Benjamin, who also spoke out during the inaugural address and is still in police custody.
Evans and Benjamin are co-founders of the national womens peace group, CODEPINK, which has 90 chapters throughout the United States and the world. CODEPINK is known for its creative and bold approach to anti-war activism, and for its members success in interrupting prime time speeches three nights in a row during the Republican National Convention in New York City. Evans and Benjamin have both traveled to Iraq several times to witness first-hand the reality of the occupation.
The six women who held up banners and chanted in the VIP section during the presidents inaugural speech were Diane Wilson 56 years old; Jodie Evans, 50, Elaine Broadhead, 55, Mara Duncan, 58, Tiffany Burns, 29, and Medea Benjamin 51. They are from California, Texas, and Washington, DC. Benjamin and Wilson are being held by the police; the other women have been released.
An additional ten CODEPINK activists, who were seated further back in the crowd, also held up banners or spoke out against the Iraq war inside the inauguration ceremony. Three men were also held up a banner, and are being held by the police with Benjamin and Wilson.
On Wednesday night, CODEPINK co-sponsored a protest outside the Black Tie and Boots inaugural ball, where peace and justice activists chanted, End the Celebration, Stop the Occupation and The champagne is flying, while soldiers are dying.
Hundreds of counter-inaugural events are being held throughout the country this week, in what many are calling the other inauguration: the inauguration of the second term of the anti-war movement.