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The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

Tarak Kauff; Organizing Civil Resistance, Dealing With Police

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Tarak Kauff arrested in Wash DC, with Daniel Ellsberg, to his left. (Photo by   Cheryl Biren )


Interview notes

Tarak Kauff


One of the organizers of the Dec 16 White House Gate protest. 

Came up with the idea 

Felt it was time for a veterans led civil resistance. 

That if Veterans for Peace led it, it would bring others in. 


Started planning it two months before. 

Used listserve, conference calls.


Was one of the smoothest organizing processes that myself and many others have been involved in. 


We realized we weren't going to stop the war with the action. 

What we wanted to do was to keep the spirit of resistance alive and visible-- real resistance- beyond just marching. We wanted to put our bodies on the line. 


WE kept ego out. 


We know we are not heroes, that we're ordinary people. We don't feel that civil resistance is heroic. 


We had lawyers, which we had arranged beforehand. 


We wanted to show that this was something that ordinary can do. 


You think about the idea

what you want to do

your objectives

scenarios that can block your objectives,

hav e contingency plan


We didn't know if we'd even bel allowed to go to the picture postcard area in front of the Whitehouse. 


The police knew because we were having a rally (and plans were online.) We used the rally to establish a staging area. We didn't have a permit to go to the Whitehouse and stand on the ledge and lock ourselves to the fence. 


Difference between civil resistance and civil disobedience. 


We didn't know how strong a presence the police would have, if they would let us get there. 


It turns out they had barricades about six feet in front of the fence and about six polce spread out. 


When we left the staging area with a single file, very somber march, with drum beat,  we marched all along the barricades. 


We stayed there for a while


iF you think about something and you have some experience and solidarity and a small group that can work together. 

You follow your principles. The organization 


Mario Savio's statement. 


Dfference between Civil Disobedience and Civil Resistance.


A group of people are resisting an unjust law-- like during civil rights-- the lunch counter segregation. Civil disobedience is when you protest an unjust law.


Civil resistance is when you are upholding a law, when you are attempting to stand for what is recognized as an international law that is being violated.


We were putting our bodies on the line. We are saying we are staying here to stop the wars until you take us away, forcing you to use police force. 

We are going to stay there and we know the system does not want us to stay there. 

This is a way, somewhat somewhat symbolic, of putting ourselves on the gears and wheels and making the apparatus stop. 


Blocking ports, blocking roads".


An interesting thing that happened in England. They went into a factory that was making munitions that were being used in the Cast Lead attack by Israel against civilians in Gaza, where over 1300 people were killed. 


A group of people, five of them, got into the factory early and destroyed over $200,000 worth of equipment. In England they have a law that you can destroy property being used for an illegal purpose. The five people were found not guilty. Instead, the manufacturer and the factory-- they were on trial.  Those people were putting themselves on the line to stop the legality of war. 


Our purpose was not to get arrested but to make a strong statement.  I think we did that. our intention was to revitalize the movement. Videos of this action spread over the internet. This was our intention, what we'd hoped. There was a kind of mass media blackout of this-- very little mainstream media. But so many people are waking up to the fact that we're not getting real news from the mainstream media. If we want real news, with real intelligence and thinking behind it, we have to go to other sources. 


One of the reasons we held it midweek was we wanted to offer people the chance to make sacrifice. 

Nothing happens without sacrifices. 

I don't mind asking people to sacrifice, 

I don't mind asking people to take a risk. 


You don't know how the police are going to treat you. 


Warned people that if they became violent, started cursing, treating the police like pigs, they would be treated as instigators/provocateurs. Would tell the police that those people are not a part of the group. We had people filming and had instructions so if someone acted this way we would have it on film. Fortunately it didn't happen that way. Everybody did follow the principles we laid out. 

Principles were laid out at veteransforpeace.org


www.stopthesewars.org for info about this action. 


Spoke to the head of the police. I wanted to know what his intentions were. We'd been there about an hour. I knew who he was. He was a quite decent fellow. 


He told me people had to move closer together. There were two lightposts, where if you are inside that area you are in the arrest zone. So I told those people if they wanted to be in the civil resistance they would have to be in the area. Then they cleared the area and then they began the arrests. 


Some of the people were thinking that they were going to wait us out. Maybe there would have been ten of us if they had waited us out. 


I appreciated his cooperation. 

We won't always be communicating with the police. There will come a time when we will be trying to stop a part of the war machine for as long as we can. This was out in the open. 

They knew because they were monitoring our website. Also, you have a choice, are you going to communicate with the police beforehand or not at all There have been time when we've done actions when we did not inform the police. 


In this case, we had decided to do a rally, In order to do a rally in Laffayette park you need a permit. They knew we were going to have a rally and our website, our posters said veteran led civil resistance"

So when I spoke to the park police person in charge about the permit, about the rally they asked if we were going to do civil resistance. We were pretty straightforward. 


They could have had stormtroopers out there-- police in full riot gear, horses. I've been there. We just laid down because the horses won't trample. 


They wanted to know what our line of march was and I told them. They could have blocked us, but that wouldn't have been in their interest. When the POLICE resist it increases-- ghandi, when he did the salt march, he knew what the police would do and it demonstrates the inherent violence of the system. It's a tremendously violent system, when you look at the jail, what's done to working people, most of it is being projected out in warfare, all the innocent civilians being killed in Iraw, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and our role in ISraeli abuses. 

Ghandi knew they were going to be stopped violently and that's what it brought out and they were willing to take that and some time we may have to be willing. But they were being wise in DC. 


Sometimes the purpose of civil resistance is to come directly up against the system and force them to act-- to expose this kind violence.


People took different approaches to getting arrested-- some walked cooperatively, some were dragged away. Some have bad shoulders-- they could get hurt. It turns out the police were" okay. 


Have protested at congressional offices and sat and forced police to drag them out. 

Usually don't coordinate with police then-- it's your right to be there. They're supposed to be working for you, but they're really working for the corporations. 

This is a system by the corporations, of the corporations and for the corporations. 


Once you're arrested it's a fairly minor charge.

it's not a felony

It can take from two hours to up to 31 hours before being processed for civil resistance or disobedience. They let you pay a fine that doesn't go on your record. It's usually about $100 

Or you have the option of contesting it and going to trial. You don't pay any fine then and then you try to prove your case-- why it was justified to disobey a direct order. In this case we'll mount a necessity defense-- that we're doing it for a greater purpose-- because war crimes are happening, people are dying"

What we did at the white house is totally minimized. 

I've said this to judges. This is our duty. We are decent human beings. This is what we should be doing as citizens. You should be paying my stransportion to washington. Anything decent has come about because of struggle. If people think they are going to get changes by writing their congressman. 

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Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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