Occupation of Washington

A platoon of Iraq Veterans Against the War occupied crucial parts of Washington, DC, yesterday. They performed routine safety patrols, rounded up potential insurgents, stopped and questioned suspicious characters, and were even briefly detained by law enforcement themselves. This is the sort of direct action I can get behind: disruptive, in your face, organized, focused, and effective. I wish that all protests could have this calculated, intense impact on people, rather than being unfocused chaotic alienating hordes.

It would be highly effective to be walking down the street and suddenly see a cluster of people in military uniforms appear, wrestle someone to the ground, and “abuse” them while battering them with questions. Or to wonder why strange people in military uniforms are moving briskly about, giving you orders. To see them stopping cars and shouting at the occupants. I think that this direct action probably brought the war home to a lot of people who have not thought about it in the sense of an occupation. The individuals who participated in the direct action are all veterans of the war, and therefore in a unique position to show people what it’s really like in Iraq. I wish I could have been there to talk to them!

Many of them are also members of Courage to Resist, an advocacy organization for conscientious objectors. Appeal for Redress is another organization of military members against the war. For civilians who didn’t already know this: there is widespread anti-war sentiment among American troops, many of whom are calling for immediate withdrawal, questioning the legality of the war, and refusing to serve.

The conventional security forces in DC must have been mighty grumpy about the whole thing…and I have to admire the guts of the Marine recruiter who was still hitting the streets during the action. Several roundups of suspected insurgents occurred right next to the recruiting office, which I’m sure cannot have made the recruiters too happy. The military is about being in “the few, the proud, the brave,” after all, not harassing innocent civilians who are minding their own business.

Street theatre goes straight to the heart.

[Iraq Veterans Against the War]