Thursday, January 10, 2008

Working To Create Change

We have been busy lately...

Nothing like being waterboarded by death on a late fall afternoon.

This picture was lifted from the Asheville Citizen-Times. Check out the article they wrote about the vigil and upcoming Veterans Voices - Veterans Speak Out on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM

Death says, "Bush's health plan keeps me as busy as his foreign policy".

Busy filling goody bags. The bags were brought to Fort Bragg by two Iraq Vets Against the War members who, after handing out about 150 bags, were detained for hours. Read Jason Hurd's, President of the Asheville chapter of IVAW, account of events.

Brownies Will Get You Five to Ten:
A Boondocks Chapter Christmas at Fort Bragg

By Jason Hurd

On the morning of December 17, 2007, Steve Casey and I awoke
bright and early at the Quaker House in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Steve and I had driven nearly three hundred miles from our home-base
in Asheville, North Carolina to distribute holiday gift bags to the
wonderful servicewomen and men stationed at our nation's busiest
military post--Fort Bragg. Our friends and supporters in Asheville
stuffed nearly three hundred small lunch bags full of holiday cards,
chocolates, cookies and home-made brownies. The gift bags had a
humble feel to them: brown paper lunch sacks with the tops folded
down, green and red ribbons, a copy of our newsletter Sit-Rep stapled
to the outside and a small sticker that said, "To: A Warrior, From:
IVAW." Our mission was to ensure that these bags--each made with love
and kindness--got into the hands of our deserving soldiers.
With gift bags in hand, Steve and I drove to Fort Bragg's Mini
Mall and set up a small collapsible table to distribute the bags
from. We taped two large poster boards to the front of the table; one
said, "Happy Holidays From Your Fellow Veterans," and the other
proclaimed, "We Love Our Service Women and Men." Immediately, Steve
and I began handing the packages to soldiers as they exited the Mini
Mall. I greeted each soldier by saying, "Hello. My friend and I are
veterans and we are giving holiday gift bags to our soldiers to show
our appreciation for your service. Thank you and happy holidays."
Nearly every soldier I spoke with replied with a large smile, "Thank
you very much. I'm glad there are people like you doing this. Happy
holidays to you too!" Within an hour, Steve and I had given out
nearly one hundred and fifty bags. In that time, only one soldier
reacted negatively toward us; every one else seemed extremely
Around one o'clock in the afternoon, a female manager who worked
for the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AFFES) came out of the
Mini Mall and said, "Hey guys I'm glad your giving out packages to
soldiers, but you can't do this on Fort Bragg without a permit." I
replied, "Great! Where do we get a permit?" The manager explained
where we needed to go, and we began packing up shop to go get our
permit. That's when the Military Police showed up. Three MP's--SSG
Netwig, PFC Murray and PVT Garren--approached us and began questioning
us about our gift bags. SSG Netwig glared at a copy of Sit-Rep and
said, "I'm going to keep my personal opinion out of this, but you are
disrupting the order and discipline of my post." I explained that we
were on our way to get a permit for our bags and we had no intentions
of disrupting the order and discipline of Fort Bragg. SSG Netwig
replied that we had offended a lot of people with our bags (which was
news to Steve and I) and that he would not allow us to continue
distributing them.
At that moment, a Special Forces Captain (apparently one of the
people we had offended) approached SSG Netwig and spoke with him
privately. Immediately, SSG Netwig said that we were going to the
Provost Marshall's office to answer questions.
"Are we being arrested?" I said.
"No. But you are being detained," SSG Netwig replied.
At that moment, the MP's shoved Steve and I against their patrol
car, searched us, handcuffed us and placed us in the patrol car like
criminals. They drove us away leaving a box of gift bags on the trunk
of Steve's car. In the back of the patrol car, I looked at Steve and
said, "Don't worry, this is a good thing--trust me." "OK," Steve
said. SSG netwig drove us to the Provost Marshall's office where,
after being searched a second time, we spent the next four hours as
detainees. One investigator told Steve that Fort Bragg is a
conservative post and that anti-war views were in the minority. The
officers separated Steve and I and began questioning us. I asked four
times to make a phone call so that I could consult with an attorney;
the officers denied my right each time. A criminal investigator
entered my room.
"Are you affiliated with any other groups besides IVAW?" he
"No, I am not, " I replied.
"How did you and this Steve guy meet?"
"Look," I said, "I'm not going to continue answering questions
without consulting an attorney."
"But you aren't under arrest. You're merely detained and we are
trying to have a friendly conversation with you," the investigator
"I feel like it is in my best interests to consult with an
attorney before continuing," I replied.
Then the investigator and officers walked out leaving me alone in the
room. Against my captor's wishes, I began text messaging the Quaker
House and IVAW members to let them know what was happening (the
officers had mistakenly left my phone). Immediately, the
investigators began receiving calls from every peace activist from
North Carolina to Philadelphia urging them to release Steve and I.
The MP's knew they had a situation on their hands.
Before we knew it, an investigator apologized to Steve and I for
the inconvenience and released us. The investigator informed us that
we just needed to get a permit for future activities of this nature.
Two young MP's escorted Steve and I back to our car and we talked
about Iraq on the way. One of the young MP's said, "Yeah, fuck Iraq.
I hate that place. I had friends die there. I don't ever want to go
back." We pulled up to Steve's car and rubbing the cuts on our wrists
from the handcuffs, we saw the perfect ending to our day. The box of
gift bags was still sitting atop Steve's trunk and some passerby had
written on it the following:
"Hi, I heard what happened. Listen up cops, politicians, and OVER
platoon DIED BRUTALLY for the First Amendment. We have the right to
peaceful protest, damn you! Why did you arrest these guys? To all
ya'll who don't believe in: freedom of speech, press, council,
religion, assembly, and petition...GO TO HELL!! Sincerely, A
concerned passerby and witness to the arrest of protesters."
So much for being the minority.

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