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Why We Fight; A Mother's Guide to Civil Disobedience

By       Message Elaine Brower       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   6 comments

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WHY WE FIGHT: A MOTHER'S GUIDE TO CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

While my son is fighting for his life in Fallujah, under some false pretense that we are "defending democracy" or "killing terrorists", I decided to take up the fight at home. Very few here are left defending our Constitutional rights. Those who are trying are getting exhausted. We have a march after a rally and, then, march again. Five years later, the war gets worse and the Middle East is on fire. There is extreme rendition, Hurricane Katrina "survivors", spying on U.S. citizens in the name of preserving our freedoms, domestic economic failures and disasters, higher gas prices, and the global cowboy foreign policies that we have to listen to and witness on a daily basis.

Well, being a true patriot who flies the American Flag and the Marine Corps. Flag outside her home in suburban Staten Island, New York, I decided to fight against the rapid whittling down of our rights to free speech. I made plans to get arrested at the United Nations when the liars and crime bosses were visiting. I'm talking about those from our own Government.

The planning started a few weeks before, and it was done quietly but with great determination. I spoke to only those I knew felt the same hopeless feelings I had. Too many issues to just have a rally and go home. When the world was visiting New York City, we would strike. And so we did. Sixteen determined citizens from all walks of life, all ages and backgrounds, decided to perform an act of non-violent civil disobedience in front of the United Nations on September 19th when the General Assembly was meeting to decide the fate of the world.

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It was the scariest thing I had ever undertaken in my life, including my 3 marriages. Being married to a retired police lieutenant, and having 2 sons who are NYPD officers, I asked myself what in the world was I doing. But seeing the smirk on the face of George Bush when he visited the site of Ground Zero and using it as his backdrop for a photo op once again, I decided I was doing the right thing. If he could stand there and humiliate me and this Country, I could walk into the fires of hell to stop him.

The morning of the event came and I had gone sleepless the night before. I showed up at our meeting location and all I could see was my heart pumping right out of my shirt. I kept telling myself "You can't do this, you can't do this!" But then I looked at my son's picture which I carry with me, and I thought of all those funerals I had attended over the course of his deployment, the sadness in those mothers' eyes and the questions they had as to why this happened, and I grew calm.

I was no longer afraid of the big bad wolves surrounding the UN in their black suits and earpieces, or the hundreds and hundreds of uniformed officers from every single police unit that could possibly incur overtime on our tax dollars. I marched down to the gate on 1st Avenue and 44th Street and walked right between the police gate and a police van. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air, picture of my son in hand, and landed on my back about 10 feet from the gate I was trying to get through. From my viewpoint, I could see a huge melee breaking out. My friends had succeeded in walking through the barricade. I could see camera crews, uniforms, my friends, black suits, visitors, and onlookers just running into the crowd. There I was lying on the street with people jumping over as I thought, "I can run away and no one will ever know!" But I couldn't. My friends, who I have the utmost respect for, were being overwhelmed and abused by the law enforcement types that were there. Cameras were right in the middle of the crowd filming, so I jumped back up and joined in. I looked to my right and couldn't believe what I saw. My friend, Father Luis Barrios, was kneeling on the ground with 4 uniformed police officers holding him down on his shoulders and head. For a moment it looked like he was praying. But as soon as I saw the force with which they were holding him, I knew he was in pain. So I joined the line of our group of protesters and we locked arms. We were all shaking and hurt but we stood firm and chanted "ARREST BUSH", "PEACE NOW", "BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW", and some other things I don't even remember. It seemed to me that at that point the police and secret service just totally backed-up. I couldn't understand it. I was expecting them to immediately cart us off as the "insane criminals" that they thought we were, but they let us chant. And we did. A man from the onlookers joined us and locked arms in solidarity. We smiled at him. We faced a sea of uniforms, suits, cameras and people watching. They looked as shocked as we were.

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All the time I was standing there I thought of my son fighting on little sleep, few rations, somewhere out on the Euphrates River and it made me stronger. Our voices were heard loud and clear. We accomplished our goal, however tiny a step we took towards the massive movement needed in this Country to stop the fascism. We did it!

We were then arrested and carted off in a paddy wagon. Eleven women and 5 men. The women were in one wagon, with cuffs and dirty clothes. Relief and contentment that we did what we set out to do filled up that old dirty wagon. Here we were, 11 women, ranging in ages from 20 to 78, different in so many ways, spanning many generations but sharing the same goal, and having the time of our lives! Boy, the NYPD was very sorry they kept us locked up for 5 hours. We did more talking and laughing then I have ever done in my life. We bonded and shared the experience of defiance. All 16 of us decided that afternoon into the evening that we were the core of the underground movement that would spread out and continue to push back against any fascist government that would deny us our First Amendment rights, and any other rights that we have all fought for long and hard over hundreds of years.

So I say to you, when given no other chance to express yourself, don't feel hopeless or helpless or afraid, get out there and demand to be heard! It is your right as an American citizen, and don't ever let anyone take that away from you.

 

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Anti-war activist, mother of three combat tour US marine; member of the national steering committee for the "World Can't Wait" www.worldcantwait.net and member of Military Families Speak Out (my opinions do not reflect the national position of MFSO).

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