Come protest the war today at 5:30, Orange Circle – It’s the New Black!


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As you may have read, on our naughty little sister blog and elsewhere, the long-lived Wednesday evening protest at the Orange Circle has started to get overwhelmed by knuckle-dragging pro-war Freeper counterprotesters. (I’ve always understood the adherents and activists of the far-right FreeRepublic.com called themselves Freepers, not Freeps, but maybe I’m just old-school.)

I’ll post the protesters’ appeal for reinforcements below, and urge all war opponents to get their act together and start joining these very cool ladies every Wednesday at 5:30, for at least a few weeks until the Freepers bugger off. But if I didn’t have my own take on this kerfluffle I wouldn’t be blogging.

I think the temptation so far is to frame this, and perceive it, as a defenseless group of peace-loving ladies needing our protection from a gang of tough motorcycle-riding steroid-pumped War Hawks.

In point of fact, Code Pink, the ladies who have run the protest for all these years, are NO SHRINKING VIOLETS. They’ve been doing this on the Orange Circle since way before it was cool and popular to be against the war, and their sisters up in Berkeley (admittedly a different environment) have faced down Marine recruiters. On the other hand these Freepers, if they’re like any I’ve met, are a bunch of soft, effete Armchair Warriors with no military experience or physical courage, hiding behind loud slogans, tough talk, leather jackets, and their own numbers (unlike our crowd, many of whom actually served in Vietnam or Iraq.)

No, the outrageous thing is that we 70% of Americans who are now against the war (maybe it’s 60-something% in the OC) have allowed the anti-war group at one of our holiest protest sites to be outnumbered by brainless Bush-worshiping dead-enders. Get your act together, progressive patriots of Orange County, and come help out at 5:30 today; show the world that we Americans want this STOOPID WAR over now!

Back in March 2003 when all this was starting, a few of us were already against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Why? Not because we’re against all wars (not all of us anyway) but because we just happened to read and think a little bit. Yes, I realize the majority of Americans were terrified by 9/11, and confused and misinformed by the government and media. But now we’re just glad that we’re not in the minority any more, and we welcome all you new converts to the anti-war cause, and promise not to tease you for taking so long to wake up and smell the coffee.

Let me tell you a little story. At the beginning of the war a few of us started a weekly protest at Edinger and Goldenwest in Huntington Beach. People yelled and threw things at us, while occasionally someone would pull up slowly and quietly, and sheepishly confide, “I think you guys are right.” A pro-war counter-protest developed across the street which grew by the week. Holding up signs that read “Nuke Iraq!” and “F**k Iraq!” (which as far as I could tell was not the official Bush position), their more enthusiastic participants went so far as to cross the street, push us, and try to grab our signs. One of my favorite signs of theirs was “Kick ass for cheap gas!” (I wish I could find that person now; gas was about $1.67 back then!) During a more civil moment, a female counter-protester explained to us that she backed the invasion of (secular Saddam Hussein’s) Iraq because she “didn’t want to end up wearing a burqa” – one of those comments it’s hard to know how to respond to. And we really had them confused whenever we joined in whole-heartedly with their chants of “U – S – A!! U – S – A!!”

But now, since around 2005, it’s been the opposite: Most passersby honk, wave, flash thumbs up or peace signs; while others pass sullenly with their heads down. The very rare dissenter these days will yell something and keep driving as fast as they can; trouble is, they can never seem to think of anything more interesting to yell than “George Bush!”

Finally if any of you think that protesting the War is uncool, a throwback to the 60’s: it’s not, it’s the hippest thing a young person can do these days, it’s “the New BLACK.” Come protest today at the Orange Circle; pretty girls from Chapman University will walk down and join us spontaneously; truckdrivers and local lowriders will take extra loops around the Circle to honk and cheer.

(I was hesitant to post this because I can’t actually be there THIS afternoon due to a rehearsal of the musical Sweet Charity at Garden Grove High School, and I don’t want to be a sort of Chickenhawk myself asking people to do something I’m not going to do. But Art Pedroza will be there for me, and he’s big and scary; and I pomise to be there the next few Wednesdays, with my American flag [which the rightwingers cannot be allowed to own] my leather jacket, and a big peace sign!)

Dear OC Code Pink Activists and Supporters,

I need to let you know that for the past 6 weeks or so, a group of right wing extremists called FREEPS (http://www.freerepublic.com/home.htm) have been counter-proesting us at our weekly Traffic Circle vigils. These idiots are specifically targeting Code Pink in several locations including Redlands and now Orange. And their numbers appear to be growing. They showed up en mass for our vigil on March 19th commemorating the 5th anniversary of the start of the Iraq invasion. However, we had large numbers that evening too. But last week there were only about 10 of us and about 30 of them.

They wear brown leather jackets, carry lots of American flags and anti-Code Pink signs, and play patriotic music. They arrive about 1/2 hour before us and try to dominate all 4 intersections of the Circle before we can get there. They stand very close to us, verbally harrass us, and a couple of them have threatened us. One even tried to rip down our banner. They have taken pictures of us and followed us to our cars.

We have called the police several times, but have not had much assistance from them yet. However, one of our members went to the Orange PD yesterday and talked to the Watch Commander about them. The police are aware of us, but did not know about their recent arrival to our vigil. So hopefully they will be more responsive to us now if we have to call them.

The bottom line is that we need your help now! We need Code Pink OC to outnumber them! We have been holding our weekly vigil for over 3-1/2 years! And I greatly appreciate all the support and participation that each of you has given to our Code Pink chapter during this time. But now we need to show the FREEPS that we are serious about working for peace and that we will not be intimidated.

So I am asking each of you to please start coming to the Circle once again as often as you can for the next month or so to show support and solidarity. Otherwise we may
have to end our vigil. And bring a video camera if you can so we can document their actions.

Thank you all for your efforts for peace!
Kathy (Code Pink OC)


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.