MORE ABOUT AUSTIN PROTEST

I believe the following report from Smith Media Inc. was written by a journalist who was in residence at Camp Casey and whom I met, but I can’t remember that person’s name, so I may be wrong.  I love the photos of the Pink Police.  The overreaction by the police and subsequent arrest and also the pushing of Cindy and her sister DeDe, which you don’t see but which resulted in visible bruising of them both, were regrettable and unnecessary. 

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TIFFANY BURNS, a member of CODEPINK, (center) asks an Austin police officer if he would join her and the other pro-peace activists in making a citizens’ arrest of the president’s chief advisor Karl Rove.
— Staff Photo By Nathan Diebenow

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FACE DOWN in the carpet, CODEPINK member Tiffany Burns was detained and later arrested outside a Republican fund-raiser where the president’s chief advisor Karl Rove was to speak last Saturday evening.
— Staff Photo By Nathan Diebenow
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AN AUSTIN POLICE OFFICER restrained CODEPINK member Tiffany Burns outside a Republican fund-raiser last Saturday evening.
— Staff Photo By Nathan Diebenow
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THE PINK POLICE, members of CODEPINK Austin, walk toward the dining hall to make a citizens’ arrest of Karl Rove, the president’s chief advisor, at the Renaissance Hotel in Austin last Saturday.
— Staff Photo By Nathan Diebenow

CONFRONTATION IN PINK
Monday, August 21, 2006 – By Nathan Diebenow, Associate Editor

AUSTIN — What started out as a creative nonviolent protest to perform a “citizens’ arrest” of President George W. Bush’s chief advisor — Karl Rove — at a fund-raiser dinner turned into a scuffle with the arrest of a peace activist last Saturday evening.

Earlier that afternoon, about 70 protestors gathered on the property of the Renaissance Hotel in Austin. One activist was almost arrested, but the police officers with the City of Austin let that person go. At that point, the police were “great,” according to Carl Rising-Moore, field director for Veterans of Peace. A negotiation was brokered with hotel security officials to move the protestors onto a grassy area at the hotel’s entrance.

Along both sides of the street, the protestors chanted slogans, performed music, recited poems, and unfurled such banners as “Rove: Guilty of crimes against humanity,” “Bring Troops Home Now,” “Turd Blossom = Bush’s Brain,” and “Liar Liar Bush On Fire.”

“Give me liberty or give me death,” shouted one protestor. “Save our republic!”

Vehicles driving by the protestors honked their horns in support. Three protestors handed out leaflets to vehicles pausing for the stop sign. Several vehicles in the hotel parking lot were dotted with flyers denouncing the dinner guest of the Associated Republicans of Texas.

To enter the hotel to get closer to the reception inside, the protestors then decided to have a snack inside the hotel’s restaurant. In all, about four or five other tables filled up with protestors who displayed their posters, talked amongst themselves, and nibbled on their food in relative peace. At one table, a protestor was breast-feeding her child; however, one person, perhaps accident prone, spilled some water at another table.

Some activists also stood inside the hotel silently holding American flags and signs: “Peace Now,” “We Love Our Troops! Don’t Let Them Die For Lies!!” “King Karl The Kleptocrat Stealing Elections,” and “Killer King Karl Murdering The Bill of Rights.”

Other activists attempted to start conversations with the guests of the Republicans during a happy hour reception, but the guests for the most part kept on sipping their drinks and chatting amongst themselves. A handful of Austin police officers were present, one standing between the two groups. Rove, ART’s guest of honor, did not attend the reception, though he was scheduled to speak to the Republicans during the dinner.

Inside the hotel, the activists escalated their message-making. One protestor was seen traveling up and down the elevator with a pink sign that read “Rove Is A MISleader.” On the other end of the hotel’s closed courtyard, a small group of protestors unfurled a three-story banner that read “Rove v. Truth: No Contest. Pink Slip Rove.” from a sixth story balcony and chanted “Tis the Season. Karl Rove For Treason.” A dozen guests at the hotel, hearing the chants, came out from their rooms to check out the action. The chanting soon petered out.

However, moments later, Cindy Sheehan and a half a dozen members of CODEPINK Austin, the later of whom were dressed in their very own handmade pink police uniforms, arrived downstairs from one of the six hotel rooms they had reserved there. With yellow crime scene tape, the women quickly walked through the hotel restaurant to gain entrance to the main dinning hall where the ART dinner was to be held. Hotel security, by this time, descended on the scene to stop them, as the ART organizers ordered their guests inside the dining hall.

A small group of activists unfurled their three-story-tall banner again but this time closer to the hall. The group of activists then took over the space the guests had left in front of the dinnng hall entrance. There, Sheehan called for the citizens’ arrest of Karl Rove. In response to each item on her list of charges, the protestors yelled, “Citizens’ arrest!” Looking a little pale, Sheehan stopped to rest, but the crowd repeated the chant with a new refrain for Rove — “Traitor!”

“You say you advocate peace. This is not peace,” said an African American police officer, trying to encourage the crowd to leave the hotel grounds.

Once or twice before this point, CODEPINK activist Tiffany Burns had asked the police officers to help the group arrest Rove. The last time she requested, the police officers forcibly restrained her. As two officers grabbed her arms, she fell limp to the ground. She screamed, “Help!” An officer flipped her body and face down on the carpet. During this scuffle, Sheehan’s sister DeDe Miller and another activist fell to the ground, but were not restrained by police.

Outside the hotel entrance, as the police were escorting the group from the building, an officer told an inquisitive activist that the police detained Burns because she appeared to be the “ringleader” of the group. Laughing, the activist replied that Burns was not the so-called ringleader. Annie Nelson, the wife of country musician, Willie Nelson, informed the remaining activists that Burns had been arrested and charged with inciting a riot.

“What happened inside?” rhetorically asked Ret. Col. Ann Wright, the Camp Casey Chapter president of Veterans of Peace. “Well, it was a great day for peace.”

Sheehan and others returned to their hotel rooms upstairs, while activists from Camp Casey III returned to Crawford about 100 miles from Austin where they have been for the past half month. The groups that participated in Saturday’s action included Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, and CODEPINK Austin.

Since last summer, Sheehan has unsuccessfully tried to meet with President Bush to ask him for what “noble cause” did her oldest son Casey die for while he served in Iraq in 2004. She will be attending a protest in Salt Lake City, Utah, during President Bush’s visit there on Aug. 30 and the next day to speak at a American Legion convention.

This Thursday, President Bush is expected to arrive in Kennebunkport, Maine. He will be staying at his parents’ summer home for the weekend. He is scheduled to attend a wedding for a relative.

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