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Grandmothers Against the War Go to Criminal Court

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Message Missy Beattie
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This was an act of conscience based on the great American tradition of peaceful protest, walking in the shoes of other great Americans like Martin King, Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez. These are the people who make America great. We should applaud them—not prosecute them.

Yes, we should applaud and honor the Grandmothers Against the War as well as civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, quoted above. He is representing these courageous women.

On October 17, 2005, 18 grandmothers attempted to enter the Times Square Military Recruitment Office to enlist in the armed services but were not allowed access. This is the statement they made:

We are grandmothers heartbroken over the huge loss of life and limb in Iraq. We feel it is our patriotic duty to enlist in the United States Military today in order to replace our grandchildren who have been deployed there far too long and are anxious to come home now while they are still alive and whole. By this action, we are not supporting the use of military force in Iraq—in fact, we are totally against it. But inasmuch as it exists, our goal in joining up is only to protect young people from further death and maiming.

We grandmothers have all had the privilege of living long lives and are willing to put ourselves in harm’s way so that our own and other people’s grandchildren will have a chance to enjoy full lives as we have.

We believe these young men and women are being used as cannon fodder in an illegal and totally unjustified war against a nation which posed no threat to us. They were sent there on a web of lies and deceit resulting in untold harm to them and countless innocent Iraqi people

We hope that by enlisting today we can help bring about the early end of this immoral occupation and the return of our brave young people to their home and families…Now

Mr. Siegel had notified the police of the grandmothers’ intent to enlist that day. “No one was ever in jeopardy,” he told me in a phone conversation. “They were anything but disorderly.”

In an act of civil disobedience, these 18 women, ranging in age from 49 to 90, sat on the sidewalk in front of the recruitment office. They did not block the entrance and in no way posed a danger to the public. But they were arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail where they spent four and a half hours, two to a cell.

On November 15th, the grandmothers were arraigned and pled not guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct. Prosecutors offered “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal” on the condition that the women would not be arrested again for six months. As passionate antiwar activists, the grandmothers would not agree to this and received another court date of January 10, 2006.

I was there for this one.

In support of these brave women, I went to Criminal Court in lower Manhattan. I did this because I believe in what they’re doing and I was asked by my mother, the grandmother of Marine Lance Cpl. Chase Comley, killed in Iraq on August 6, 2005, to be there on her behalf.

A press conference across from the courthouse was held prior to the arraignment. The grandmothers sang antiwar songs and handed out a brochure printed with the lyrics. This is one of their parodies:

God Help America by Kat Sather, Raging Grannies of Tucson, Arizona.

God help America, We need you BAD!
‘Cause our leaders are cheaters
And they’re making the world really mad.
Climbing mountains, crossing oceans
And invading foreign soil…
God help America, No Blood for oil!
God FORGIVE America, no blood for oil!

Most carried or wore signs that said, “We are the true patriots. Lives are at stake,” and “Arrest Bush, Not Grannies.” Some had pictures of their grandchildren. Ninety year old Marie Runyon was a pincushion, her hat and lapels festooned with antiwar buttons. I heard her giving a tongue-lashing to a reporter who admitted that he didn’t vote.

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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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