Codepink confronts a military hardware exhibition in Washington on Mother’s Day
Roses and guns for Mother’s Day
Reporter: Sharmini Peries
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN (VOICEOVER): The peace organization Code- pink marked Mother’s Day with a 24-hour vigil in front of the White House. Thousands of roses, dedicated to fallen soldiers and civilians killed in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, were placed at the White House fence.
MEDEA BENJAMIN, COFOUNDER, CODEPINK: And it was so beautiful to be in front of the White House with these women and this incredible banner that says “I will not raise another of my children to kill another mother’s child,” with all the roses, singing happy Mother’s Day to Michelle. I mean, it was lovely, and that should be in the media.
PERIES: The day was organized around Julia Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation.
MIMI KENNEDY, CODEPINK: As Julia Ward Howe said, the sword of murder is not the balance of justice. That’s in the original Mother’s Day declaration from 1870.
CROWD (SINGING): We will not raise our children to kill another mother’s child.
PERIES: President Obama got to the White House behind you because of the peace movement. And they rallied behind him. Some of them thought he was the peace candidate. What are your feelings now?
JODIE EVANS, COFOUNDER, CODEPINK: Well, he got to the White House because there was an antiwar movement. I don’t know that the whole antiwar movement was behind him, but it was because there was a movement and that he was able to ride on that message into the White House. I think it’s amazing that he’s there, and he’s doing some fantastic things domestically. I’m very concerned about him in the area of foreign policy. I feel he—I’m confused and upset about what he’s doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that he’s broken his promise about when troops will come home from Iraq, not only that they will come home later, but that he will leave more behind. And I’m very concerned that he hasn’t raised his voice louder about what we have done with our money and weapons in Gaza.
PERIES: At the other end of the Washington Mall, in front of the Capitol Building, there was another Mother’s Day weekend activity: an annual public relations and recruitment exhibition organized by the Department of Defense. We spoke to US Army officer Barrett Taylor, who explained the objectives of the exhibition.
PERIES (ON CAMERA): You’re with the US Army?
SGT. BARRETT TAYLOR, US ARMY: I’m with the US Army. I’m with the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, and we’re stationed out of Fort Hood, Texas.
PERIES: And you’re here on the Mall on Mother’s Day with all your gear and tanks and so on. So what is it all about?
TAYLOR: Well, Ma’am, we got invited out to take part in a Public Service Recognition Week. It’s basically a recognition for the military and for the civilians that work for the Department of Defense. We get to come out here on the Mall and talk to the public, show them what kind of equipment that the soldiers and, you know, other members of the Armed Forces are using. And they get to see the different agencies that work for the government and what it is exactly that they do in support of the government.
PERIES: And how many people go through this exhibition here?
TAYLOR: A little over 60,000. I don’t know an exact number, but from what I’ve [been] told, a little over 60,000.
PERIES: And you have lots of children and parents going through all of this. Do you see a certain level of excitement and support for the military?
TAYLOR: Oh, absolutely, absolutely, especially the kids. The kids, they see the tank, and they want to come climb all over it, you know, talk to the soldiers, and have their pictures taken with the soldiers. So not only is it good for the public to be able to interact with us, it’s good for my soldiers to be able to see what kind of impact that they’re making on the civilians and how much support they are really getting from the civilian population. It’s a real good event here.
PERIES: And what is it we’re sitting on?
TAYLOR: This is an M1A2 SEP Version 1 main battle tank.
PERIES (VOICEOVER): We asked some Codepink mothers how they felt about the public relations exhibition.
CODEPINK VIGIL PARTICIPANT: It makes me feel very sad that we are having a culture that is not of peace. What builds peace is harmony, love, compassion, mercy—all of those things that our children really should be taught. They should not be given hand grenades as toys, such as is happening here.
PERIES: The focus of the Mother’s Day peace protest culminated around a quilt. Pieces were sent to Codepink from mothers from various conflict zones, which they unveiled in front of the exhibition. Some Codepinkers, upset at being barred from the exhibition, asserted their right to enter the exhibit.
OFF CAMERA: What’s the matter? You’re a part of the group? You can’t come in.
PERIES (ON CAMERA): Sir, why aren’t they allowed to go in?
OFF CAMERA: Well, that’s your opinion, Ma’am. But I’m just letting you know that that’s the decision that has come down.
PERIES (VOICEOVER): The Real News was also not allowed to film the public relations exhibit while the rest of the public had easy access.
PERIES (ON CAMERA): Why? [inaudible] media. You’re not allowing access to the media?
PERIES (VOICEOVER): Soon, the military called the DC police for reinforcement, and one of the Codepink women, Lydia Vickers, was arrested and charged with assault and trespassing on the Washington Mall.
OFFICER 1: Behind the tape.
PERIES (ON CAMERA): We’re media. We’re press.
OFFICER 1: That’s right, press area is over there.
OFFICER 2: Press area’s on the other side of this line.
CROWD: Let Lydia go, please. Let Lydia go, please. Let Lydia go please.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.