On 18 June, 2015, commemorating Julian Assange’s third full year in asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Grannies and friends (Matt, Mel, and Fran, with Bud taking photos) gathered on the steps of the NYC main library, 5th Avenue, with posters highlighting the importance of whistle-blowers to the democratic process, as well as noting most of these “messengers of truth” are in prison (Chelsea Manning), exile (Edward Snowden), house arrest (John Kiriakou) or asylum (Julian Assange), or dead (Karen Silkwood)! So much for freedom of speech and the press!
And to our surprise, our message was also seen on a “not in service” bus, featuring an ad on its side: Privacy is a Myth. We couldn’t have said it better or larger than this!
While our group was smaller than previous years due to many other events on Thursday** we were quite lively, engaging many passers-by in conversation on what we were doing. Strange and a bit sad to say, but it seemed people were quite bewildered by what we were doing and what our signs said. “Don’t be afraid to take a flyer” Max shouted! He was joined by Ann and Jenny in calling out the names: Assange, Ellsberg, Manning, Kiriakaou, Snowden.
Ann mentioned that several persons she talked to really didn’t have any understanding of whistle-blowers, let alone the importance of their experience in informing Americans and people world-wide of injustice, torture, war crimes.
Nydia:Is it because it’s a library? Interestingly several passersby who stopped to talk were journalists: four from Brazil and two from New York – one for a blog and the other for a Spanish language paper. They all thanked us for our presence. Tourists from Italy and Germany expressed their appreciation saying that surveillance is a concern to them, also.
Marty met with two young men from the Nature Conservancy as we were setting up. I mentioned what we were doing, noting that WikiLeaks had provided to us chapters of the infamous Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty which pointed out threats to our environment, esp the possibility of over-riding NY States moratorium on fracking. They were actually not aware of the TPP debate, but as young people can do so swiftly, they looked it up on their phones then and there.
We were lucky with the weather: overcast and cool, not like last year when we sweltered in the sun. The location is a good one to reach a good mix of New Yorkers and visitors. However, we thought we should do this again this year, perhaps in Brooklyn.
And to Julian Assange: we do hope that this is the last year we have to do this in your “honor.” We hope all the Whistle-blowers will have been freed!
– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
– Photos: Bud Korotzer
**Bev and Joan in Syracuse for their upcoming trials; Lillian, Corinne, and others at the Women in Black against the Occupation vigil, Tibby preparing for the evening Rosenberg benefit, among others