Veterans Protesting at Smithsonian Met with Pepper-Spray
All too often, when there is criticism of U.S. military actions it is the service members who receive the force of the backlash. They are called criminals, they are accused of being brainwashed, and it is they that are punished when something goes wrong. However, many sometimes feel that when they do speak out against U.S. military action, they do so without support and with the threat of being accused of being traitors hanging over their heads. Veterans, on the other hand, are better positioned to be the voice of military personnel.
By giving first hand accounts of atrocities they’ve witness and the perceived senselessness of those atrocities, they leverage the fact that they have followed orders and have fought to defend freedom of speech and the right to protest. Nevertheless, yesterday, activist where shocked and outraged to learn that not even veterans are safe from police aggression when employing their Constitutional rights, the very rights they had once laid their lives on the line to protect.
Approximately 50 members of Veterans For Peace (VFP) participated in a march this afternoon from Freedom Plaza to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. The museum was featuring an exhibit on unmanned drone bombers that a group of about 250 people from the October2011.org encampment at Freedom Plaza intended to protest.
'We had marched from the Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations, taking over the streets of DC. The museum knew we were coming. Some of our group got in and dropped a banner. Hundreds of us did not. Instead, we were greeted at the door with cans of pepper spray.' We intended to hold signs and sing inside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, protesting its promotion of unmanned drones, missiles, and bombs, including its sponsorship by and promotion of weapons corporations. We don't have any museums promoting health coverage or education or retirement security.' This was the statement given by David Swanson is the author of 'War Is A Lie.'
VFP Acting Director Mike Ferner said, 'I was at the first entranceway, holding the door open for people to enter. I saw a police or security officer in a white shirt hold his hands up, telling people to stop. The marchers continued and the officer began pepper-spraying everyone. From everything I saw until that moment, there was no reason for the pepper-spraying. The door of the museum clearly said 'free admission.' It did not say 'Free admission if you are quiet' or 'Free admission unless you have opinions contrary to government policy.’
Veterans For Peace is one of several groups organizing the October2011.org encampment. VFP is an organization composed of U.S. military veterans from WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars and every period in between.
In an email sent to supporters last night Swanson said:
We're not scared.
We're not discouraged.
We're not fooled.
We've got demands as clear as a blue sky:
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy K Street
And Never Give it Back!
Military personnel, their families and veterans to ask President Obama, “Where’s Our Beer Summit?” Sunday, October 9th, noon
WHAT: Where’s our beer summit? President Obama met with Sgt James Crowley and Henry Louis Gates Jr. in August 2009. Military families and veterans who oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan want to have their 'beer summit' and talk with Obama. Do we not count? After ten years of war in Afghanistan and eight years of war in Iraq, veterans, military families and military personnel want to know why US forces are still in both countries and have a beer to discuss this with President Obama. Currently the American public is overwhelmingly in favor of troops leaving both countries, especially in light of our economic crisis where funds for veterans’ care are needed because of the continuing casualties and families are devastated by long-term care for their wounded. 'We want some answers, and President Obama is the commander-in-chief; he owes answers to those who sacrifice much everyday and have sacrificed in the past for this country. Col Ann Wright (Ret.) says, 'It’s high time that President Obama met with military families, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and veterans from other wars who don’t agree with his polices on war and their effects on veterans and families.'
WHO: Military Personnel, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans
WHEN: Sunday, Oct 9, 2011; March starts at 11:30 AM, arrive White House at 12:00 noon
WHERE: Veterans and Military families will march from Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Park, and then to the front of the White House.