December 1st in Philadelphia: Eight of the 18 arrested NYC grannies got up at four am to catch a six am bus to Philadelphia. We were on our way to Philadelphia to support our Philly sisters, charged with defiant trespass at a military recruitment center some months earlier and now scheduled for a court hearing at 9 am on Dec first. By the time we arrived at the Philadelphia Community Court, 1301 Arch Street about 150 people were already assembled. Among them six from the NYC Peace Brigade who had driven from NYC with our banners, placards, and signs. Students from Pennsylvania area colleges, from New York University, Williams College in Massachusetts, veteran groups against the war, seniors, artists, union workers, peace activists were present and a trio of guitarist, flutist and singer provided appropriate music throughout. The crowd was interracial, intergenerational and diverse.
An upbeat Granny MC gave a welcome and background data and then introduced each granny who spoke briefly. As each name was called the granny spoke and then exited into the courtroom building to loud chants of GO GRANNY GO. The noted poet/educator, Sonia Sanchez (one of the 11 arrested grannies) read a poem she wrote and dedicated to all grandmothers who stand against the war. The last grandmother, 91 years old and in a wheelchair, spoke in a small but determined voice. As she was wheeled into the courthouse building the loudest cries of GO GRANNY GO literally bounced off the pavement and roared into the air. Eleven times this lively scenario of GO GRANNY GO energized the crowd. Cars, buses, and trucks going by gave the impression of some urban street theatre. Passersby were curious; some stopped and some stayed to join the rally. The youngest onlooker was six weeks old. Young Gideon whose grandmother was one of the arrested took it all in quietly as he rested on his young mother’s belly but his eyes moved back and forth and an occasional smile and small grunt seemed to express approval.
And as the grandmothers always say, “We do it for them, the children, so that the lives they live will be full of peace, hope and a future of singing days and nights.” – Vinie Burrows
The weekend of November 17, I traveled with the SOA Watch NYC to a demonstration calling for the closing of the School of the Americas, a combat training school for Latin American soldiers established in Panama in 1946. The SOA was relocated into the Fort Benning Army Base after being kicked out of Panama as part of the Panama Canal Treaty in 1984. Renamed “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” in 2001, the nickname “School Of Assassins” persists. There is real hope that the school will be closed at last. In the House of Representatives twenty of the opponents of the June 2006 amendment calling for the closing the SOA /WHINSEC have lost their seats. The SOA Watch will be working very hard to educate the new members of Congress about the need to support closing the school. Visit www.soaw.org for more information.
During the weekend I was shocked to learn that the US-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) have created another means by which the police and military are increasing repression in Central America, especially in El Salvador. For information visit www.cispes.org.
On Sunday a large and diverse crowd, estimated to be 22,000 people, came together in the street in front of the high barbed wire fence to call attention to the crimes against humanity funded by our tax dollars. Elderly nuns, aging priests, Catholic high school and college students, Protestant Mission groups, various veterans and other peace groups galore crowded the area, looking over the many tables set up to raise funds. There were leaflets, T-shirts, books, white head scarves given by the 1,000 Grandmothers, bagels, and coffee. Some hard working local people, living among the tattoo parlors and pawn shops, sold hot dogs, chili and water. Every so often another appeal for funds to pay for the weekend event would be announced and people holding up their small white paper shopping bags would come into the crowd accepting the money gladly given. The speeches and music were outstanding. The colorful puppets and banners, the dramatic silent reenactments of the massacred dead were breath taking. On Sunday at noon there was a massive memorial. People chanted the names of the many dead while raising a white homemade cross, a star of David, or a flower. The funeral procession repeated “presente” for each name of someone killed by a SOA graduate. The barbed wire fence was so covered with crosses, stars and flowers, one could hardly see the army base and the police on the other side. At the very end, in the tradition of Latin Americans celebrating life, shouts of “VIVA, VIVA rose from the crowd which was dancing in the street while helicopters buzzed overhead. There were many hugs and good-byes with new friends and old – a renewal of our vow to struggle for peace and justice as we moved toward our buses for the long trip home.
There were sixteen who did not go home. They “crossed the line,” going onto the Fort Benning Army Base, two grandmothers among them. These people will pay five hundred to one thousand dollars bail before returning home. After their trials, they will most likely have five thousand dollar fines and spend two to six months in jail. – Bev Rice
Members of the Granny Peace Brigade, Code Pink and local volunteers joined with United for Peace and Justice to participate in the counter-recruitment event on Parent Teacher night, a chilly October evening. We had committed to distribute flyers and speak with parents at three high schools: Norman Thomas HS, Edward A. Reynolds Westside HS, and Chelsea Vocational HS. The flyer in English and Spanish explained the opt-out form and the importance of having it signed and returned to the school. It listed some realities of military service, and provided websites for more information.
A five-person team lead by Bev Rice at Norman Thomas HS distributed about 150 leaflets. The feedback from parents and teachers was very positive. Every parent took a flyer and many stopped to talk to the volunteers. Teachers coming onto the building supported the effort, and a student teacher, an Iraq Veteran Against the War, was pleased to see the leaflets. At Edward A. Reynolds HS the leafletting team also received a warm and grateful response from parents and teaches.
Four volunteers at Chelsea Vocational HS distributed about 200+ leaflets. Again parents were pleased to get the flyer, talk about the military, and plan to sign and return the opt out form. Teachers stopped and told us they were pleased we were giving the info to the parents because the students rarely follow up when given the opt-out form. One teacher said he would talk about the issue in history class and others said that they would post the flyer. I also spoke briefly with the president of the Parent Association, who was very concerned with recruiters in the school. At about 5:40 pm, the principal came out and asked the women to leave or he would call the police. One of the women mentioned our legal rights and told him I was carrying the agreement with the NYPD concerning leafletting near schools. Nobody called the police. – Barbara Harris
And at Brandeis High School Lillian Rydell and I together with Ula Jorgenson from West Side Peace Action leafletted and spoke with teachers, students, and parents. All were very receptive and we engaged in many conversations about counter recruitment. Opt-out letters had already been given out by the administration, to the students for parents to sign. One parent showed it to us as he was submitting it to his son’s teacher on Open School Night. Two students asked for UFPJ form as they “had lost theirs” and never got them to their parents. The Professional Development faculty member shared with us that most of the teachers in the school were against the war and that she had been following news re: the Granny Peace Brigade. She planned to photocopy the Opt-Out form and get them out to the teachers for students who did not have them. All in all…it was a positive experience! – Phyllis Cunningham
We all agreed this was a positive and effective action for counter-recruitment.
For more information:
Ya-Ya Network, 212 239-0022, firstname.lastname@example.org
Project on Youth & Non-Military Opportunities, www.projectyano.org
Tuesday, September 19 United for Peace and Justice held a march and rally ending at the United Nations, where George Bush was to speak at the General Assembly. As usual, the NYPD played the permit game, refusing one to UFPJ for that date. Once UFPJ established that most people wanted to march with or without a permit, they published a call to do just that. At that point, the NYPD backed off and issued a permit from Herald Square to Dag Hammersjold Plaza. The Granny Peace Brigade proudly kicked off the march which for the most part went smoothly. However, things did not go smoothly for four Granny Peace Brigadiers who had joined with demonstrators from World Can’t Wait and Peace Action. The group of 17 approached First Avenue and 44th Street, encountering hundreds of Police and Secret Service agents. A sudden melee followed, and an Episcopalian priest and Iraq Veteran Against the War were beaten and arrested by the NYPD. The rest of us formed a tight line, interacting with pedestrians chanting: “Bush is a war criminal! Arrest Bush! Get the terrorists out of the White House!” The men were charged heavily, while the rest of us received disorderly conduct DATs. We spent 8 or 9 hours in the dank holding cell of Midtown North, where we were never offered food or drink. We purchased water. Norman Siegel was contacted, visited the jail, and took the four Granny Peace Brigaders as his clients. The others are being helped by the National Lawyers Guild. – Ann Shirazi
Sunday, September 10, 2006 at Ground Zero, a group of us grandmothers stood for four hours waiting for George W. Bush to make his phony ceremonial visit to the World Trade Center hole so we could let him know how much we loathe his occupation of Iraq. We had 25 huge black balloons imprinted in white with the words “TROOPS HOME NOW” so he would HAVE to see us unless he covered his eyes And right before protesting Bush at Ground Zero on Sunday, September 10, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, 200 strong, with our gigantic black balloons, our black tee shirts with the words, WE WILL NOT BE SILENT, our drums, our wheelchairs, our walkers, and our tired old feet, accompanied by Buddhist monks banging their big cymbals, Veterans for Peace, and many other patriots. And, we’re not finished. We are already planning the next action — a VERY big one. But, we will not be here forever, folks. Others have to take on our mission, the sooner the better. Younger people, stronger people. Please, please take to the streets. Be radical, be indomitable, be committed! It is imperative! Save our country! – Joan Wile
A Birthday Surprise: A Wishful Fantasy
On October 17, 2005, the good Grannies of the Granny Peace Brigade celebrated my 78th birthday by trying to enter the Times Square Armed forces recruiting Center to attempt to bring me the best birthday gift I could wish for: the return home of U.S. personnel from Iraq. They were willing to pay for that enormous gift by sacrificing themselves; by volunteering to join the armed forces and go to Iraq to replace the young men and women fighting and dying there for no observable or rational reason.
The GPB grannies knew of my wish for the return of the young people to their homes and families, where they could continue developing their skills and abilities and continue on their paths toward producing families and watching their children grow would make me and all the grannies very happy.
They knew how unhappy I’ve been as have they, to see how this country has betrayed all of its promises for correcting, continuing and enlarging its quest for democratic government, fair treatment, honest judgment, equal evaluation and determination, and principled conduct. They knew how the actions of this government have endangered us all, condemned innocents to prison, conducted persecution and torture, lied, trampled on our constitutional rights, and remained secretive about its functions. And how they committed the worst crime to justify these despicable actions: the invasion of a sovereign country thousands of miles from our shores, and the concomitant commitment of young people in the prime of their lives.
But alas, the good grannies were prevented from presenting me with this wonderful gift of helping to end the disastrous occupation of Iraq. The recruiters at the Times Square Center had locked their doors. The grannies sat down in front of the Center, shouting, “We insist that we enlist,” to no avail. Police warned them to go home, and when they remained seated, they were arrested and jailed for disorderly conduct and blocking the doorway of the Recruiting Center.
The GPB grannies suffered serious hardships to present me with my birthday present, which could also have let the world know that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has been used to trample on the democratic principles of this country. They felt that my birthday present would include the resurrection of the dying principles of this country.
They protested their forced detention and the belligerence of the United States in warring against another country and dictating how the world must conduct itself, and of ignoring the needs and rights of its own people in the service, maintenance and control of the world’s wealth, kept in the hands of the already wealthy and powerful.
During the late fall and long wither they were ordered to appear before a judge several times. Before each arraignment they protested with speeches, songs, dances and marches. On Valentine’s Day, February 2006, they were joined across the country by many other women and granny groups demonstrating to end the Iraq War. Some tried to join the Armed Forces as we had done.
The trial of the GPB grannies began April 20th and ended April 28th . The GPB Grannies were found “Not Guilty” of all charges. We celebrated our acquittal the next day by helping to lead a huge Anti-War march in New York City.
The grannies have continued their demonstrations: they went on an eleven day “Trek” beginning at the Times Square Army Recruiting Center on June 24th and ending on July 4th 2006 in Washington D.C., visiting ten towns and centers along the way, and demonstrating for peace with anti-war groups. In Philadelphia, they helped their sister GPBers get arrested. It is hoped that by October 17, 2006, all armed forces personnel will have left Iraq.
On that birthday, I’m going to request that the Granny Peace Brigade grannies give me a birthday gift of returning all U.S. armed personnel home from bases in Afghanistan, Germany, South Korea, Pakistan, Okinawa in Japan, Britain, Israel, Kosovo, Uzbekistan; from the Persian Gulf States of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to the 14 bases being built in Iraq, and in other countries, totaling almost 800 overseas bases. This doesn’t include bases in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, nor the over 2,000 bases within the United States. – Corinne Willinger – August, 2006
Day Five, Granny Peace Brigade Still Trekking
We waved farewell to Philadelphia, our new friends – and commenced a-trekking to Wilmington.
Sally, the President of Delaware Pacem in Terris met us with a motorpool, so we could fan out in many directions to activate senior centers. We carried along our song books, buttons including some form Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE exhibit and “We will not be silent” shirts into the meeting room and found ten or twelve people quitely waiting for their regular bingo game to begin.
At first, they were uncertain of who we were and did not seem to be connected, but as we listened, they told us that the tuition was too high for their grandkids to go to college – that recruiters were on campus and that they wished that there were more people offing jobs.
Later, in the hot of afternoon, we vigiled in front of a strip mall with a recruiting station that operates “by appointment only”; so, it was closed. On the vigil line was Freida, who came from Austria. She recalled that people would always ask her how could the Germans could have done what they did being so intelligent. There were honks for Peace and fingers for War.
Then, Michael Berg, the father of Nicholas Berg (who was beheaded on National TV) came to talk with us. He is the Green Party Candidate candidate for Congress, whose campaign vehicle is his 13-year-old car plastered with Peace stickers.
I finally put it together that the Green Party was not formed recently by environmentalists but rather by a peace activist and organizer of the IWW. He was jailed for taking a stand against WWI and said as he went to prison, “Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” Mr. Berg absolutely stands in that tradition and is, also, an environmentalist.
Our base, the Westminster Presbytarian Church, put on a country pot luck that was sweetly attended by local Unitarians and Quakers. After supper, the Granny Dancers featuring Betty with her walker and other with canes performed and, finally, Joan sang two of her anti-war songs.
I am writing this overlooking the foothills of the Appalachians. My host Daniel is sitting next to me putting out a report to his peace list and his love, Marie, is making Pennslyvania Dutch baked oatmeal.
We will return here on Saturday to go to Dover AFB. – Diane Dreyfus
Day Four, 11 Grannies arrested at Philadelphia Recruiting Station
The day began with everybody running late.The floods closed both sides of the Schulkill River rendering the alternate “Sure Kill” expressway a parking lot. My Philadelphia host, Norma and I took the train as planned, and found it packed and utterly workable – there is nothing like a captive train when you are wearing “We will not be silent.” * T-shirt and a Granny Peace Brigade Button. We had great conversations on board and were pleased when one of the Grannies (an Army Vet) posted to this site saying that she was ready to take action to end this immoral occupation.
At last, we arrived at the Suburban Station to find about 17 Grannies milling around, reading the First Amendment ala Reverend Billy at the World Trade Center Station. We wandered in pairs reading the text. Just a-mumbling around until we gathered in a group and recited these lines very loudly:
“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.”
Then we walked away randomly and continued the recitation. With in minutes some Philadelphia Police Officers rolled over in the golf cart and told us this was “private property” and that we should not be doing this. Funny, in New York we usually have private guards in private places and police in public ones. So, we just kept on muttering and wandering until it was time for us to go to the Friend Meeting House to rally with our Philadelphia sisters.
The 11 women, many of whom we had gotten to know over the last few days, came to the Friends to list their reasons for undertaking their redress of grievance. Ruth B. wore a picture of her grandchildren around her neck. Among the 11 was a woman, age 92, in a wheel chair with her husband – the bailer out – pushing her along. She told me that she had gone to the Nevada proving ground in the 1950s to protest atomic war.
We were about 40 strong as we went to the Recruiting Station on Broad Street at 11:00 A.M.
We all wheeled and walked to the Recruiter’s with a bull horn, signs and high anticipation of what would be. The door was open, and so the 11 Grannies and our camera crew, a legal advisor from WILPF and local photographers, went in.
We were hardly idle outside. Speakers spoke, songs were sung, petitions circulated and hours passed. At one point, it looked like they would not be arrested and the NY Grannies considered using their Permit for Independence Hall, but at 4:00, hours after the authorities had given everybody 15 minutes to leave the station, it became evident that arrests would take place. About this time, a bus of very young school kids passed by giving us the “V” and lots of energy.
The action moved around the corner into the shade, near the side door and conveniently out of sight.
We hung our “Grandmothers Against the War” banner on the parking lot fence and proceeded to read the names of the Pennsylvania casualties. Another hour or so passed and there was speculation that the local news camera had been recalled and that the flooding would take precedent. (Surprised?)
After this many hours, it became very clear that the 40 of us were not going away, the first woman was escorted to the patient Police van at 5:30PM (too late for the 6 o’clock News.) Rumors circulated that they would go to one or another precinct but when they were finally confirmed and the witness group and the “bailer” took off after the 11 women.
Since 40 people don’t fit in a cab, we waited around until the trolley – the fare for which would be reduced for seniors – and followed our local guide Helen to the 16th precinct. There we entered the police station and could wave at the captives. That is, until too many of us arrived and the police said only spectators over 90 could stay in the air conditioned station. So, the “Bailer” and our Marie enjoyed the police version of the “culture of hospitality”, while we waited on the steps.
At last they began to trickle out. Greeted by our applause and chant, “We stand with our Sisters. Troops home NOW.”
As they came out, the women said that their original court date was to be late in July but their arrest sheets showed that that the actual date was tomorrow at 9:30 AM; giving them no time to organize support. Another interesting was their paperwork: most of them were carelessly entered in the system. That is Black women were listed as White, White women listed as Black, Asian, Alaskan, and in one case Male. It looked like an opportunity to dismiss on technical grounds. But, nobody was going to do THAT after spending a day like this.
* Motto of the White Rose Society – a group of students during the 3rd Reich who set up a secret printing press to protest the Nazis. – Diane Dreyfus.
Day Three, Granny Trek, Monday, June 26, 2006
The Culture of Hospitality:
Alive and Well!
The Culture of Hospitality was alive and well with Reverend Bob Moore and his colleague from 1st Methodist of New Jersey. The Reverend Moore hosted a damp press conference in front of the NJ State House Annex. We NY-er’s were amazed at his ability to do this. Our action was to rally at the Annex and convene at the 1st Methodist Church since it was around the block. We settled on the ample balcony of the Church and read the New Jersey dead and even thought the list was shorter than NY’s voices broke and some people could not read for grief,. We stood afterwards for a long silence which Vinie Burrows broke by entoning “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.” We keened and sang ourselves back to the steps.
On the way to lunch, Marie Runyon noticed that the door of the recruiting office had opened, at last or again, and she called for others to join her in going in to engage the Army recruiters. We followed her up the stairs where we were met by a very decorated officer who was back from Iraq. The young man, told Reverend Bob that the people of Iraq need out help and that he would go back anytime. We were sad to hear this and admired him for his earnest but (to us “misplaced”) dedication. Meanwhile, Marie bantered with an officer in another officer, who finally came to greet her and take literature on the war..
Philadelphia was a quick stop after that and we were ensconsed in the arms of the City of Grandmotherly Love. – Diane Dreyfus
Day Two, Granny Trek, Sunday, June 25, 2006
We began Sunday morning telling the extravagently itinerant Vito Fosella “fuggetaboutit” because of his stand on the war.
We then thought we had said goodbye to our lovely host’s but later in the afternoon they were recalled
with much love. In a moment of lull I opened a card from my 3 generations of dear hosts and found a $50.00
donation. (A gift on top of all that had been and done for us!) When I shared the card with my sister
grannies they were very moved. And as we were reflecting on that kindness, Sally Jones of Peace
Action New York State rode in from Staten Island to bring Carol her forgotten phone.
Newark was deserted when we unloaded at the Court Campus to ready our banners and the flag draped coffin
for the trek into downtown Newark. We arrayed ourselves and practiced a new song as a lone trooper
engaged us. Norman told the officer that we wanted to work with him what did we need to do. The young
Trooper told us there could be no filming or gathering in the spot. So, Norman requested the citation but
the Sargent back at the station house could not find the statute. So we went down to the major shopping
street and set ourselves up on a busy corner. Where a young man immediately asked what we were doing.
“We’re peace activists.” I said. “What’s that?” he asked. I told him and he replied “I don’t want to fight a white man’s war.”
Barbara Walker had antirecruitment pamphlets from AFSC in Spanish and English and soon enough she had
enrolled an Hispanic Reverend to pass them out the talk with the people we could not.
It took about a hour standing on this corner with the peddlers before the friendships bloomed. Eventually
Marie danced to the Hiphop vendor’s tunes. As we left, Mr. Music took a photo of Betty. A big guy spoke
urging us to “Bring ‘em home, Babe.”
Like Staten Island the evening brought a hearty welcome and a fine pot luck supper at the Friends
Meeting in Plainfield. We divided up and rode home with our hosts. The conversation with our driver who
happened to be a Palestinian was perhaps the clearest view I have ever heard on the Middle East… She
explained that after the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinians suffered from a kind educational apartheid
and thus lost not only land but the ability to regain either that or improve their personal status. After
regaling us with incredible conversation she brought us to the home of another Angel— the kind of person
who leaves her door unlocked. – Diane Dreyfus
Day One, Granny Trek, Saturday, June 24, 2006
the Granny Trek Begins
The day began in rain; we were matted down and drenched by the time we clustered in front of the Times Square Recruitment Station. Wet but cheery we had marched to the “scene of the crime” but this time with the permission of the Police. Joan Wile conducted and exciting Press Conference.. Charlie Rangle (with a generous check), Bill Perkins and our own attorney were on hand to wish us luck. The Billionaires for Bush conducted their counter-protest insisting that they have the right to profit from the war. Rev. Billy and the choir director from the Church of Stop Shopping were on hand to “bless” the journey. Getting in touch with his “inner Grandmother” the Reverend chanted “Peace-a-Loo-YAH!” The “Raging Grannies” crooned their melodious dissent and we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge. Accompanied by camera crew, our
local support and a woman, who made her way from Minnesota to join us.
The bus docked in front of J&R [ed note: a music store by City Hall.] an hour early for the Bridge crossing. It rained so hard that we clustered under the scaffolding and visited with tourists who also ended up joining us. At 2PM the skies cleared and we made the crossing to Brooklyn where the “Greens” greeted us and walked us though the Fulton Mall to the Bed-stuy recruiting station. Marie [ed note: one of the grannies]walked right in and insisted that she be allowed to enlist. The crisp and courteous Marines pushed their commander forward, and he was totally diplomatic and respectful, saying at last that he was glad to see us out protesting since this is still America. The deft handling prompted Norman Siegel to say ” If the Marines in Times Square had handled this as well we would never have gotten arrested.”
Our last stop was the most touching and real. We stood with Staten Island Peace Action at Borough Hall near the ferry and read the names of the 117 Dead from NY State ringing bells as the names of the fallen were recalled.
Then we went to the homes of our generous hosts.. My “Family” was three generations of sweethearts. It was like a home coming for me to be among the committed.
Peace-a-Loo-YAH. – Diane Dreyfus
June 24-July 4, 2006 Granny Peace Brigade Trek. GPB held a rally and press conference in Time Square on a rainy Saturday morning and then proceeded to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, commencing our ten day “trek”(actually riding a bus between cities) from New York City to Washington, D.C. With activities in Brooklyn, Staten Island and major cities all along the way, we met, were graciously hosted, housed, and nurtured by members of various peace groups.
We met with peace groups, residents of senior housing, political candidates and elected officials. We visited military recruitment centers and vigiled at the gates of Dover Air Force Base. With members of a number of peace organizations, we met, rallied, vigiled, and marched through commercial areas in several cities in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, Princeton, Wilmington, Plainfield, Baltimore, and D.C.
At every site we distributed leaflets, some of which were concerned with the cost of war, peace, counter-recruitment, and GPB information, etc. At several meetings and rallies, GPB members spoke and performed; singing, dancing, reading portions of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights, reciting poetry, and reading aloud names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq as well as Iraqis who died. In Philadelphia we supported 11 grandmothers who were arrested while attempting to enlist in the military.
We all wore our WE WILL NOT BE SILENT tee shirts and among the banners we carried were GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE banners demanding TROOPS HOME NOW and NO PREEMPTIVE WARS. Dialoguing with people “along the way” be it in a meeting, on the street, in homes, formally and informally was considered beneficial to the GPB and those we “touched” making the “trek” worthwhile. We are enriched for having made the “trek” and the feedback that we have received from those we engaged with informs us that our effort to help in the building of the peace movement has not been in vain. – Phyllis Cunningham
In April 2006 the grannies went to trial. All the women agreed that they had not done anything wrong, they had not violated any laws and were, therefore, not guilty. A judge heard all the testimony, the prosecution’s examination and cross-examination, the defense attorney’s examination. Each woman explained that she protested because of the immoral war in Iraq. After 5 days, the judge reached his decision and acquitted each member of the Granny Peace Brigade. – Barbara Harris
On Tuesday, February 14, 2006 the grandmothers who were jailed on October 17 when we tried to enlist returned to the scene of our “crime” at the Times Square Recruiting Center to participate in the National Grandmothers Enlistment action planned for Valentine’s Day. We “opened on Broadway” — put on a talent show — chorus line dance, original comic and dramatic monologues, and songs. All performers and special material writers were members of the group of 18 grannies, ages 59 to 90, who spent the afternoon of October 17 in jail! We think it most fitting that we used the location of our arrest on Broadway to do what Broadway is famous for — ENTERTAINMENT! – Joan Wile
On October 17, 2005 a coalition of women from several peace and justice organizations, came together to protest the war in Iraq, and to urge their government to bring the troops home. This action, which took place at the US Military Recruiting Center in Times Square, Manhattan, led to our arrest. The Grannies had tried to enlist in the US military that day in order to replace younger children and grandchildren who still had long lives to live. Because the door to the recruiting center was locked, we sat down in front of the center, sang songs, chanted, and read the Granny Peace Brigade Statement of Peace. The police authorities saw the demonstration differently. Was it civil disobedience? Were we blocking an entrance to the center or the passage to the center? A police lieutenant commanded us to disperse. We did not move. After facing resistance to the command a second time, police officers arrested the 18 women and took us to the police station. – Barbara Harris