FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kevin Martin, 301-537-8244 (mobile)
Paul Kawika Martin, 951-217-7285 (mobile)
NON-VIOLENT PEACE DEMONSTRATORS BRUTALIZED
BY SECRET SERVICE AT WHITE HOUSE TODAY
Washington, D.C. – Twenty-three non-violent peace activists calling for an end to the US war in Afghanistan were violently pushed and dragged away from a White House gate by Secret Service officers this afternoon. The activists, participating in a larger demonstration of over 300 people organized by the National Campaign for Non-Violent Resistance, had sent a letter to President Obama last month requesting a meeting today to discuss their opposition to the war.
After a non-violent “die-in” at the White House gate, the peace activists waited for over three hours while various police departments, including the Washington, DC Metro Police, Park Police and Secret Service, gave conflicting stories about whether the activists would be arrested or not, the group’s request to meet with someone from the Administration having been summarily rebuffed by White House guards.
Suddenly, with no warning and with dozens of other police officers watching, a group of about a dozen Secret Service officers swooped in to push and drag the protesters, who included a number of retirees, away from the White House gate and outside a police perimeter that had been established in the normally public area in front of the White House.
“I wonder how the officers who brought a grandmother to tears with their completely unnecessary, harsh use of force will explain how their day went when they go home to their families at the end of their shift,” asked Kevin Martin, Executive Director of Peace Action. Martin was shoved hard in the back by two Secret Service officers, causing him to fall into National Campaign for Non-Violent Resistance Co-convener Joy First, a grandmother from Wisconsin. First was roughed up by several officers and was still in tears twenty minutes after the incident.
“Clearly, the Obama Administration, which has increased the violence in Afghanistan with its escalation of troops earlier this year, would rather have Secret Service thugs rough up peace activists than to engage in a dialogue with us about Afghanistan,” said Martin. Paul Kawika Martin (no relation), Peace Action’s Policy Director, had just returned from a citizens’ peacemaker delegation to Afghanistan organized by the peace group Code Pink. “But we will not be deterred, and the American people have turned decidedly against this war. We call on Obama to meet with us to discuss Afghanistan and apologize for the brutality of the White House police force, and to begin bringing US troops home so the people of Afghanistan can resolve their country’s problems.”
Peace Action is the country’s largest peace and disarmament group with over 100,000 members nationwide. www.peace-action.org
The National Campaign for Non-Violent Resistance has worked for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. http://www.iraqpledge.org/