Who’s afraid of the Christian Peacemaker Team?

Motley crew
Lock up your daughters, it’s the Christian Peacemaker Team delegation!
 
By now the story is out about our visit to Senator Allard’s office today, particularly the effort we encountered to thwart our visit.

I’ll recap. After holding our daily noon vigil for the four CPT hostages being held in Iraq, a delegation of vigil keepers went downtown to visit the offices of three local congress members as part of the national SHINE THE LIGHT campaign. We walked with three yard signs and another sign of similar size held aloft. One among us wore a black hood over his head, to remind onlookers of the Abu Ghraib captives.

After a pleasant walk down Tejon Street, we first visited Congressman Hefley’s office where we received a warm reception. They’d seen the TV news report the night before. They also confirmed having received our emailed press releases.

When we tried to find Senator Allard’s office, our reception was quite a different matter. We nearly didn’t make it to his office.

Senator Allard’s office is located in the Plaza of the Rockies, a mid-sized office building with a large atrium. The building is home to many financial service companies such as Morgan Stanley, RBC Dain Rauscher, Booz Allan and Hamilton, Stewart Title, and Vectra Bank among others.

Finding ourself on the second floor of the atrium, unable to get to the floor above, our group fanned out to find a stairwell or alternative elevator. We were no longer parading with our poster boards, carrying them instead under our arms. But our identity as war malcontents was probably apparent enough and we could tell that a couple of the occupants of those glass offices appeared to grab their phones on seeing us walk by.

After my own fruitless search for Suite 300, I returned to find our group being confronted by two men in suits. We were being asked to leave the building. This was private property they explained and we were not permitted to protest on their property.

We answered that we were not protesting, but were merely trying to reach Senator Allard’s office. Could they tell us which way to Suite 300? They would not, “he’s not there.” They insisted instead that we leave. Private property and all that.

We countered that Senator Allard’s office was a public space, and certainly the conveyance to his office must be considered public. They did not agree. When we asked with whom we were speaking, the first identified himself as “Larry,” the chief security officer, the other was the property manager.

Finally we offered to relinquish the offending signs and take them outside the building. I ran the signs down to Pat and Esther who were waiting outside the front door.

I got back in time to hear the property manager arguing “if you knew your bible, you’d know why we have to be in the Middle East!” I learned afterward that I had missed him accusing the leader of our delegation, CPT member Bill Durland, of being “Taliban.”

Eventually the two building representatives agreed to conduct us to the Senator’s office, but only on the condition that Peter remove his hood. Though again we made our case that the Abu Ghraib hood represented an important message we were trying to communicate, in the end Peter agreed to take it off. He would be able to put it back on in the Senator’s office.

In the Senator’s office we were greeted by his assistant who offered to talk with us. But she insisted that the security official remain in the room, and she insisted that Peter remove his hood.

There followed a polite exchange whereupon members of our group spoke from their hearts about the illegality of the war in Iraq, the immorality of torture and other crimes related to the taking of captives without just cause, etc. Senator Allard’s assistant pulled out an old chestnut that Allard is still using at fund raising speeches. Apparently 9-11 caused more casualties that our fighting in Iraq, and that if we hadn’t fought the war in Iraq, the war would have come to us here.

Throughout this discussion, police officers were arriving. The first two arrived at the heels of another Allard staffer. They walked in the door without saying a thing, walked through the reception area where we were having our exchange, and went to stand in the office just inside the reception area.

The odd thing was that no one was addressing these officers, they were merely shown the inside office where they could hear our discussion and interrupt presumably if they were needed. A third officer arrived shortly, and then a fourth. We could see them waiting unsupervisez in the other room. One of the police officers wore the typical tight black gloves and left them on.

When asked who had called for the police officers, Allard’s assistant repeatedly declared that she did not. Although she also did not question any of the officers as to what was the purpose of their visit, and why there came another and another. Instead she proffered that the police were merely a routine measure of building security.

In the end, our visit felt more fruitless than constructive. I don’t know what we would have expected to communicate to one of the few senators who voted against the anti-torture bill. Allard’s assistant defended her boss by telling us that his opposition to the anti-torture bill was because he wanted a stranger one. We interjected that simultaneously Allard had expressed his approval of President Bush’s signing exemption.

In the end we saw the soft underbelly of the beast. and should have taken greater advantage of it. The Neocons may be formidable adversaries, but their supporters, the underbelly, are about as soft as they come.

Senator Allard’s office help kept insisting that they welcomed our visit, yet they seemed quite in step with the actions taken on the part of building security, actions which were not welcoming in the least.

Had our confidence not been boosted by the knowledge that our lead negotiator was an ACLU lawyer, we might not have been persistent enough to reach Allard’s office.

The routine scrambling of police officers certainly surprised us. Afterward I longed to have questioned one of the police officers in the next room. What was the nature of the disturbance described to them? What trouble were they fearing might errupt from a christian(!) peacemaker(!) team visiting their senator’s office?

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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2 Responses to Who’s afraid of the Christian Peacemaker Team?

  1. This is a joke, right?

  2. January 23, 2006

    Bravo, good work, the fascists are exposed.

    The question I want to ask the whole Bush family is this…

    how much are children worth to good christian folks like you?

    Did you know that those Bush people are old white money from Connecticut?

    George’s Grandfather was a New York City banker who lost his banking license for an interesting reason; money and power are first in the hearts of all sinners.

    My question for our Mr. Bush is this…

    Your father’s fortune, inherited by George Senior when his father Prescott died, is your family fortune, which you will control after your father dies.

    I want to know how much that fortune changed from 1992 until 2000, when you took over control of the American government, and how much that fortune is worth now; how much has your fortune changed because of your words and actions in Washington D.C. and elsewhere?

    The difference will reflect how much our children are worth to George Walker Bush, Junior and their whole family.

    Where is the heart of George Walker Bush, Junior?

    Is it with Jesus or his family money?

    In Jesus name I ask this question!

    michael@icon.net

    Read more from michael at http://rftc.blogspot.com

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