Published on
the San Francisco Chronicle

Code Pink: Hungry for End to War, Activists Set Up Camp

Meredith May

0813 03Marghi Dutton is 90 and losing her eyesight, but nothing was going to stop her from trekking to midspan of the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday with the anti-war group Code Pink: Women for Peace.

She joined a crowd of about 100 demonstrators dressed in hot pink hats, shirts and scarves and fought the wind to raise her sign: "Impeach Bush and Cheney!"

"My arms are aching, but I'm getting energy from the drivers -- so many are honking in support," she said.

Code Pink, a national grassroots peace movement inspired by Bay Area women, organized the protest to call for an immediate end to the war in Iraq and immediate impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Protesters walked from the bridge to the Pacific Heights home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., set up camp, cooked one last carbohydrate-heavy meal and began a hunger strike. About 40 gathered on some terraced steps near the senator's home, along with a half-dozen police officers.

"We have about eight people who are going to stop eating, including me," Code Pink spokeswoman Nancy Mancias said.

On Wednesday, the group plans to relocate the hunger strike to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home on Broadway, where they will urge the San Francisco Democrat to hold a town hall meeting with constituents.

Code Pink leaders believe both lawmakers should be doing more to bring the troops home and to rally other Democrats to call for an end to the war.

"Feinstein voted for the war spending bill, and even though Pelosi didn't, she's not doing enough to convince others to join her," Mancias said.

This isn't the first time Code Pink has moved into the neighborhood.


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For about two weeks in March, the street corner in front of Pelosi's house was named "Camp Pelosi" as demonstrators numbering from four to 30 lived there to urge her to fight against continued funding of the war.

Before they were ordered to decamp, protesters had hoisted a banner between two trees, taped signs to trees and the curbs and gutter, erected an awning to protect themselves from the sun, and hung a clothesline of children's clothing symbolizing Iraqi children who have been killed in the war.

Led by longtime Bay Area activist Medea Benjamin, the group is becoming a well-known rabble-rouser on Capitol Hill.

Code Pink rents a five-bedroom house on Capitol Hill to put up volunteers, who push their cause with banners, singing and hot pink couture at hearings and press conferences and in the halls of Congress. Within its first four years, Code Pink has grown to 250 U.S. chapters and 10 international ones.

In 2004, a Code Pink member infiltrated a presidential speech in New York and interrupted Bush by pulling off her dress and exposing pink lingerie with a handwritten message: "Fire Bush -- Women say bring the troops home now."

Their hunger strikes have drawn worldwide attention. In summer 2006, the group was invited to meet with members of the Iraqi parliament in Amman, Jordan, to discuss diplomacy.

Lee Gooden, a retired Air Force major who served in Vietnam, joined the group because he felt large-scale anti-war demonstrations are too factionalized into so many political causes that the message was getting diluted.

He walked with a cane on the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday and held his other hand aloft in a peace sign as cars whizzed by honking back.

"My personal wish is we would get all our troops home by the holidays," he said.

© 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.

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