Category Archives: Demonstrations

AMERICAN GRANNIES EXPRESS OUTRAGE AFTER 5 YEARS OF WAR

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Grandmothers in 20 Cities Protest Occupation; Some Get Arrested

With knitting needles, with dirty linen clotheslines, many with songs, and some with acts of civil disobedience, grandmother groups across the United States in at least 20 cities expressed their frustration, their deep rage at the continued occupation of Iraq. This was the granny way of commemorating the end of five years since the bombing of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

The coordinated granny actions, initiated by the Granny Peace Brigade in New York City, were the latest ones demonstrating once again that the grandmothers of America have been in the forefront of the peace movement since Day One of the U.S. catastrophic invasion of a sovereign nation.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of the protests was that carried out in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 17, where 10 members of the Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace were arrested and jailed for 10 hours when they attempted to enlist in the military at a recruiting center. Said Doris Benit, 80, one of the arrestees: “We believe our young people were sent to Iraq on a web of lies and deceit. We believe they are being used as cannon fodder in an illegal and unjustified war against a nation which posed no threat to us.”

Very whimsical Knit-Ins for Peace were held in New York City, Washington DC, Pittsburgh PA, and other cities. They were outdoor events which involved grandmothers knitting stump socks for amputee veterans. The New York Granny Peace Brigade valiantly knit in the rain for about two hours outside the Times Square recruiting center where they had been arrested and carted off to jail in 2005 for attempting to enlist, while calling out the numbers of dead and wounded from each state. The oldest granny, and perhaps the most vociferously protesting one there, was 93-year-old Marie Runyon. Part of the New York group, along with some members of the Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia and Maryland women, went to Washington, where they knit in rocking chairs outside the Veterans Administration, and when they had completed knitting a number of the stump covers, had a Veteran for Peace color guard hand them over to a VA official. Fifteen Pittsburgh grannies, the oldest of which is 84, participated in their Knit-In at a recruiting station, as pictured below.
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Pittsburgh grandmothers knitting at a local recruiting center March 19, 2008; photo by Bonnie Fortune

Another creative demonstration was that in Philadelphia, where the grannies hung a laundry line at City Hall and hung the dirty linen of the Bush administration on it — each item of clothing inscribed with a plea to correct the many wrongs of the Government The Philly grannies, like most of the other granny groups, sang anti-war songs during their protests.

some of the dirty linen hung at City Hall in Philadelphia PA March 19, 2008. photo by Cathy Clemens

In Orange County, NY, a group of grandmas met with State University students on campus in Middletown, and urged them to participate in the anti-war movement. In spite of pouring rain, there was a good turnout and the students were surprisingly receptive. The older women had a sense that young people are beginning to take more action in the struggle to end the war.

Grannies for Peace in the Albany, NY area joined with other local peace groups in a vigil in front of the state Capitol. Pat Beetle spoke on behalf of the Grannies at the joint media conference held at the vigil. In order to call attention to the victims of the war who are vets, Grannies had brought signs and props developed for a vigil at the local Veterans’ Administration Hospital on Valentine’s Day — large papier mache broken hearts, a banner which reads Prevent Wars: War Wounds Break Hearts, and numerous posters on the broken hearts theme.

150 people, including granny groups, stood on four corners in Sarasota, Florida. Eight stalwart grandmothers in Boston held a vigil on Boston Common in a drenching downpour. Other groups that participated were in Spokane; Minneapolis; Detroit; Albany NY; Monkato MN; San Francisco; Montpelier VT; San Jose CA; Bloomington IND; Portland, Maine; St. Augustine FL, and Denver.
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Amazingly, a lot of the granny protests got wide media coverage in their areas. This represents a kind of breakthrough, as it has been difficult to get publicity for the many grandmother anti-war activities conducted over the last five years since the war was launched..

At least two grandmothers got arrested when a group of protesters prevented entrance to the IRS in Washington DC — Beverly Rice of the New York Granny Peace Brigade and Sue Gracey of the Boston Raging Grannies. Jenny Heinz, Ann Shirazi and Joan Pleune of the Granny Peace Brigade New York were also arrested in Washington during the white mask action at the Capital.

When grandmothers are willing to risk arrest and jail, as so many of us old ladies do on a regular basis these days, you know this war is despised and must be ended. We grannies are not getting any younger and our energy is not what it was in our earlier days — but we keep on keeping on knowing we will not be here forever and earnestly hoping that we are inspiring other and younger people to carry on our urgent quest when we no longer can.

– Joan Wile

GRANNIES TIMES SQUARE KNIT-IN FOR PEACE

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March 19th, End of the 5th year of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Raindrops all night, and we conjure ways to knit in a downpour. Converging at noon on the diamond-shaped section of Times Square where the recruiting office opens its doors, Granny Peace Brigade and friends knitting-in.
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Knit a row; purl a row; every stitch we’re more in touch with the pain and loss of this immoral, illegal war. Stump socks, all colors, for U.S. vet and Iraqi civilian amputees, clothes for Iraqi babies in orphanages and refugee camps. The rain tapers to a mist – we continue, knitting, singing Raging Grannies songs.
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All the while we knit and sing, stationed between us and the door to the recruiting office is a compact little phalanx of people chanting like cheerleaders, “Win the war, then have peace.” We want to tell them, “we love the troops, but they can’t WIN!” We’ve all lost so much. Let’s get our heads together and find a way for everybody, our troops and Iraqi people, to go home and start healing the heartache!

We will keep our needles stitching until the peace arrives.

– Caroline Chinlund

Wishing And Waltzing After Five Awful Years

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Some Granny Peace Brigadiers came from NY to the two day action in Washington D.C. commemorating the 5th year of draconian Bush policy. This Protest was distinguished by no tears policing.

Maybe it’s that we all know each other by now. Perhaps it was that the protest featured multiple programs starting in different times and places. Anyway, bravo for variation on the Peace March. This nuance may usher back Vaudeville just in time for the Depression.

On the 18th, we assembled blocks away; synchronized watches and got briefed on Freeze-in logistics. So, 300 people would file through all doors into the West Hall. There, some advanced guard CodePinkers were already Frozen as if dipping in waltz positions under the magnificently domed, coffered ceiling.

Some Quaker kids stopped still ahead of me holding their â”War is not the Answer” signs aloft. All stood statuesque for five minutes. Some commuters did not even notice, some spoke soft thanks on passing and others hurled “get frickin’ outta the way you nut jobs.” Meanwhile, everybody, cops included, had their video cameras rolling. The call to “RISE UP” came and we responded “END THIS WAR!┝ The waltzers all danced themselves alive as if the War were over. We hugged our old friends and cordially greeted the cops. For a half an hour that Station was all loud, joyous and swirling a-dance.

On the 19th, four of us met in front of the Veteran’s Administration to knit stump sox and we were joined by 50 other Granny types and supporters.. The press coverage went fine — CNN assigned us our own news man and several reporters came by for press kits and interviews.

Our tableau developed earning us agreeable honks until a giant shredder parked in front of the rocking Grannies and cranked up too many decibels for the TV journalists to capture the sound of us reading the Census of the Dead and Wounded.

I inquired of the teamster how long he expected to be there grinding up all two tiny dumpsters full of paper and he replied that it would be 2 hours. And, then, he left. Carol noticed this and got herself up on the high step, reached into the cab and honked; then, she just turned the offensive noise off. There was a moment of relief until five cops came zipping over on their Smith and Wesson (no kidding) bikes. Carol was sure she was going to be arrested.
But, NO.
The cops issued a citation.
For the truck.

The spring rain drizzled the gang away and the color guard of Veterans Against the War arrived to escort us to present the gifts for limbless Vets at the Administration Building. Even there, under their awning and in the shadow of some fancy sawed-off guns cradled by the Kevlar-clad warriors arms, we continued to rock -n- knit. Eventually our gift went into the hands of the Deputy Chief, who thanked us.

– Diane Dreyfus