For Immediate Release
Michele Darr, Corvallis CODEPINK, 541-829-3926;
Oregon State Police Dismantle 'Guard Home' Vigil
SALEM, Ore. - In the wee hours of morning on Sunday, February 8th, an Oregon State Trooper seized and destroyed signs protesting the upcoming deployment of the Oregon National Guard, including a memorial set up for a fallen Guard soldier. Since November 1st, 2009, Michele Darr; a Corvallis mother of 6; has been fasting and maintaining a 24 hour presence on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol building in Salem bringing awareness to the massive upcoming deployment of the Oregon National Guard.
"We are disappointed that the Oregon State Police would engage in harassment of this nature. We have maintained a peaceful presence since November 1st, and never before have encountered vandalism when we've needed to leave our signs briefly unattended to use the restroom or take our sleeping bags indoors," states Darr.
On January 22nd, Darr commenced a second hunger strike to engage public participation in helping to stop the deployment, arguing alongside advocates in Oregon and 21 other states that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) is no longer valid. Towards this end, Darr and others are asking that Oregonians contact their legislators and ask them to support HB2556; a ground-breaking bill that will give the Governor the authority to block illegal deployments of Oregon's National Guard troops.
In the largest anticipated deployment since WWII, there are orders for over half of the Oregon National Guard; 3,500 troops; to deploy this spring. For many, this is will be the 2nd, 3rd, and sometimes even 4th times they have been deployed. This has caused extreme hardships for the troops and their families whom struggle with record high rates of combat related injury, PTSD, suicide, domestic abuse, and a host of other problems.
Along with the Oregon National Guard, all of Oregon's helicopter assets also to return to Iraq. With the loss of its helicopter assets, Oregon will be left with little resources to fight wildfires, conduct search and rescue missions, and respond to national disasters.
Despite the setback, Darr and Camp Homebound have renewed their presence on the Capitol steps complete with new signs. "We will continue to be a vocal citizen's presence on the Capitol steps until this issue is resolved, and our troops are kept home where they belong."
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CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects foreign policies based on domination and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.