We stand in solidarity with the Guantanamo hunger strikers, well into their fifth month of resistance to indefinite abuse.

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Monday, June 17, San Francisco

Today World Can't Wait called a rush hour protest vigil and speak-out in downtown San Francisco on Market Street, demanding:  No Government Spying on Whole Populations!  Hands Off Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning! Close Guantanamo Now!

The action drew together 30 people to stand up and speak out together: World Can't Wait, School of the Americas Watch, religious activists, Code Pink, Vets for Peace.  Others showed up too, several carrying their own homemade signs.  We had a bullhorn for agitation and speakers, five people wore the jumpsuits and hoods, others lofted the big banners.  We had a display of some letters from Guantanamo prisoners recently published in the Yemen Times.  Commuters and tourists were snapping pictures;  some would listen for a few minutes and then approach one of us to talk, or walk into the circle and put money into the donation can.

We gathered outside the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, to confront her over her outrageous vilification of Snowden (she has accused him of "treason").  We also expressed outrage about her recent statements after touring Guantanamo, when Feinstein thanked the prison personnel for their "dedicated service in detaining 166 individuals in a safe and respectful way."  (This, while over 100 prisoners are continuing their hunger strike and suffering constant beatings and brutality, with dozens of the men being tortured twice daily by force-feeding down the nose.)

A moving "Close Guantanamo" reflection was given by a member of Veterans for Peace; we heard news of the Code Pink delegation now visiting Yemen.  And upcoming events were announced: a church program with Daniel Ellsberg speaking about Bradley Manning, and the upcoming SF Pride Parade when a giant contingent will march to support Manning.

All our leafletters were intensely talking with dozens in the rush hour crowd, and we passed out several hundred flyers that said in part "We stand outside Feinstein's office today in solidarity with the hunger strikers, well into their fifth month of resistance to indefinite abuse.  We're here to demand the end of persecution of Bradley Manning.  And we're here to thank Edward Snowden for following his conscience.  The World Can't Wait - Resist the Crimes of Your Government!"   About the NSA spying scandal, we met a lot people of all kinds who were on a basic level sympathetic, were interested enough to take a leaflet although few stayed to really join the action  - you could see a good basis to reach out to people and change that, although we've a ways to go to catch up with Hong Kong, where hundreds just indignantly marched in the streets to "protect Snowden" holding placards denouncing "Big Brother Is Watching You" and showing Obama's face! 

We did meet many people who already knew something about Bradley Manning, though still many did not.  But the Guantanamo hunger strike is definitely "out of the headlines, out of mind" for the general public, and when you do engage people about the torture and indefinite detention at Guantanamo, the same themes of debate are still constant: isn't this about keeping Americans safe? (NO) and whether it's Congress who's preventing Obama from closing the prison (NOT).

Much more visible protest and challenging debate and concrete responsibility and courage actions are urgently needed, at a very sharp, amazing moment when thanks to the courage and conscience of Edward Snowden, the exposed NSA revelations are breaking open huge questions about who's running society and how, for many millions of people.  In closing today's rally the SF Bay chapter of World Can't Wait invited everyone there to join us in working on how to make that happen.

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This page contains a single entry published on June 18, 2013 2:52 PM.

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