Code Pink activists demonstrate in front of the White House on July 4, 2006.
|Formation||November 17, 2002|
|Purpose||Anti-war, social justice|
|Region served||United States of America|
|Key people||Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin|
Code Pink: Women for Peace is a NGO that describes itself as a "grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S.-funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities". It is primarily focused on anti-war issues, but has also taken positions on gun control, social justice, Palestinian statehood, green jobs and health care issues. The organization advertises itself as women-initiated and mainly composed of women, and has been characterized as being left-wing. It has regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C., and many more chapters in the U.S. as well as several in other countries.
With members wearing the group's signature pink color, Code Pink has conducted marches, protests, and high-visibility publicity stunts in order to promote its goals. Although women initiated and lead the group, Code Pink allows men to participate in its activities.
- 1 History
- 2 Activities
- 3 Demonstrations at Walter Reed Medical Center
- 4 Protest during Plame hearing
- 5 Tucker Carlson interview
- 6 Ground the Drones
- 7 Halloween 2009 White House protest
- 8 Gaza activities
- 9 National Rifle Association Protest 2012
- 10 Protest against intervention in Syria
- 11 Book
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Code Pink was founded on November 17, 2002 by Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin and other activists. The group's name is a play on the United States Department of Homeland Security's color-coded alert system in which, for example, Code Orange and Code Red signify the highest levels of danger.
In February 2003, just weeks before the invasion of Iraq, Code Pink organized its first trip to that nation, and subsequently led five delegations there. These delegations included parents who had lost their children in Iraq, and parents of active soldiers. Additionally, they brought six Iraqi women on a tour of the United States, and published a report about how the U.S. occupation affected the status of Iraqi women.
On its website, Code Pink lists allegations of U.S. war crimes, and states that thousands of civilians were killed in Fallujah in 2004 due to the actions of the U.S. military. Along with other groups, they gave over $600,000 worth of humanitarian aid to refugees of Fallujah in 2004.
- November, 2002: Code Pink launched a four-month vigil in front of the White House, culminating on March 8, 2003 International Women's Day, with a 10,000-person march.
- January 20, 2005: Code Pink protesters attended President G. W. Bush's second inaugural address, unfurling banners and heckling the president during his speech. The group reportedly received VIP passes from unidentified members of Congress, and were eventually escorted out of the area by police.
- September 21, 2006: Code Pink staged a peace march that blocked traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. Code Pink received permits allowing them to march after the morning commute hours at 10:00 am. Instead, the group began an illegal walk toward the center of the span at 7:30 am. They left by 10:00 am.
- March 20, 2007: a Code Pink protester interrupted a Hillary Rodham Clinton fundraiser in Washington, D.C., and was removed by security. This was one of a series of Code Pink protests against Senator Clinton; a week later, five Code Pink members heckled her at the legislative-political conference of the Communications Workers of America.
- March 22, 2007: several Code Pink protestors were arrested outside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after announcing their intent to take over her office. Code Pink was protesting that the majority Democratic Party had not stopped war funding.
- September 10, 2007: Code Pink protested at General David Petraeus' Congressional testimony, interrupting the general's testimony. Committee Chairman Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO) banged his gavel, attempted to restore order, and informed the protesters of possible legal ramifications of their actions. The protestors were subsequently removed from the hearing
- September 2007 onward: Code Pink began holding weekly "counter-recruitment" protests in front of the United States Marine Corps Officer Selection Office located in Berkeley, California. These protests escalated into the broader Berkeley Marine Corps Recruiting Center controversy.
- October 24, 2007: Desiree Ali-Fairooz approached Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with red paint on her hands and shouted "The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands!" She was immediately arrested.
- September 4, 2008: At the 2008 Republican National Convention, a Code Pink activist attempted to heckle nominee John McCain onstage while he was giving his acceptance speech. Secret Service stopped the activist before she reached the stage.
- December 12, 2008: Code Pink announced its plans to invest in Iranian wind energy in hopes to defy sanctions and build peaceful relations with the government of Iran.
- June 3, 2009: Code Pink flew a banner that said "End the siege of Gaza" at President Obama's Muslim-outreach speech at Cairo University.
- July, 2009: Code Pink arrived at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, NV as part of their "Ground the Drones" campaign. The campaign is aimed at ending U.S. unmanned drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The protests continued through November and December 2009 with the aim of "halting unmanned aircraft strikes controlled via satellite links from Creech and other bases."
- December 31, 2009: Code Pink was one of the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March on December 31, 2009, which brought over 1,300 people from more than 43 countries to join Gaza Palestinians in a non-violent, mass march to the Israeli border.
- May 11, 2010: Code Pink attempted to arrest Karl Rove at a book signing.
- June 8, 2010: Code Pink heckled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over lack of funding for states.
- March 2011: Code Pink members demonstrate outside of the FBI headquarters in support of suspected Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning.
- May 23–24, 2011: Code Pink members disrupted Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu's speaking engagements, both at a policy convention and at the United States Congress. Code Pink member Rae Abileah was arrested and charged with disrupting Congress.
- September 11, 2011: Code Pink activists marched across the Golden Gate Bridge while calling for troops to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.
- August 28, 2012: A group of Code Pink protesters attempted to enter a performing arts center to try and arrest former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for war crimes while she was attending an event in conjunction with the RNC. They were escorted off the property and returned to the public domain.
- August 30, 2012: A group of Code Pink protesters interrupted Mitt Romney's speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention. They had managed not only to secure seats close to the stage, but also were able to sneak in large pink signs.
- October 7, 2012: A group of Code Pink activists participated in "peace rally" led by Imran Khan, against the American drone strikes in the South Waziristan agency of Pakistan.
- May 23, 2013: President Barack Obama's speech on national security issues was interrupted several times when Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin shouted criticisms of the administration's use of drones and its operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
- August 13, 2013: Code Pink national coordinator is escorted out of AUVSI summit for interrupting a speech and unfurling a "STOP KILLER DRONES" banner.
Ongoing protest rallies
Code Pink often uses intrusive, political street theater to publicize its positions. Favored methods include the use of puppets, effigies, over-sized heads, and fake blood, according to John J. Tierney in a publication of the conservative think tank, Capital Research Center. Their most recent intrusion was during the CSPAN live coverage of the pre-hearing for the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director, February 7, 2013, where Code Pink activists were escorted from the hearing.
Code Pink organizes annual rallies on Mothers Day and St. Valentine's Day. On Mother's Day 2006, Code Pink organized a 24-hour gathering in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, which was attended and supported by Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon and Patch Adams. For Valentine's Day they organize kiss-ins in which members are encouraged to assemble outside military recruitment centers and kiss, as well as hold up banners with slogans such as "Make out, not war!" and "Love the troops, Hate the War." Members are also asked to hand out flyers that according to the Code Pink website, "...claim that recruiters tell potential recruits their chance of being sent to a combat zone is slim" and that "almost all recruits will be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan."
Co-founder Medea Benjamin wrote in The Huffington Post that the United States never had any "justification for invading Iraq", that there is no "justification for continuing the war in Afghanistan", and that in Pakistan, the U.S. "drone attacks are only fueling the violence and creating more Osama Bin Ladens." Regarding the killing of bin Laden, she says "Let us not sink into a false sense of triumphalism in the wake of Bin Laden's passing."
Demonstrations at Walter Reed Medical Center
Code Pink has also organized vigils at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The group has been criticized for actions at the vigils: the criticism has centered on tactics such as displaying coffins and chanting aggressive slogans. Speaking about the display of coffins, Kevin Pannell, an amputee and former patient at the hospital, said it "was probably the most distasteful thing I had ever seen. Ever. We went by there one day and I drove by and [the anti-war protesters] had a bunch of flag-draped coffins laid out on the sidewalk. You know that 95 percent of the guys in the hospital bed lost guys whenever they got hurt and survivors' guilt is the worst thing you can deal with." To those that faulted aggressive chants and signs, Code Pink responded that certain of the disruptive protesters were not part of their group and that they have asked these protesters to be respectful. Code Pink says that the purpose of the vigils is to highlight the lack of care for veterans and claims that the vigils have helped spur improvements in that care.
Protest during Plame hearing
In March 2007, there were U.S. Senate hearings about the disclosure of the classified role of Valerie Plame Wilson. During the hearings, a Code Pink activist, Midge Potts, constantly maneuvered to be in the camera views of the witness. Potts wore a pink T-shirt emblazoned "Impeach Bush". She said she was in the Judiciary Committee hearing room not to add anything to the proceedings there, but "...I switched it to the impeach during the Valerie Plame hearing mainly because it seems like that the Democrats or—are going to push the supplemental through." This action was criticized by the Capitol Hill Blue political news website on the grounds that it gave ammunition to Administration political workers to portray any complaints about the President or the occupation of Iraq as being from extremists.
Tucker Carlson interview
Conservative talk-show host Tucker Carlson criticized Pink leader Medea Benjamin for her support of Hugo Chávez. She was quoted as saying that the charge in sections of the US media that Chavez had cracked down on free speech and civil rights in Venezuela was a myth. In an interview on his MSNBC show, Benjamin was asked, "Do you want to revise that given the news that Hugo Chavez has closed the last nationally broadcast opposition television station for criticizing him?" Benjamin replied that it was not true and that Chavez simply did not renew the license because the station "participated in a coup against a democratically elected government, his [Chavez's] government." Benjamin also said "Peru recently did not renew a license. Uruguay didn‘t renew a license. Why do you hold Venezuela to a different standard?" Carlson responded that a 360-page Venezuelan government-published book accused RCTV of showing lack of respect for authorities and institutions. Carlson asked Benjamin, "I would think, as a self-described liberal, you would stand up for the right of people to 'challenge authorities and institutions.' And yet you are apologizing for the squelching of minority views. Why could that be?" Benjamin replied that, "They [RCTV] falsified information. They got people out on the street. They falsified footage that showed pro-Chavez supporters killing people, which did not happen. They refuse to cover any of the pro-Chavez demonstrations."
Ground the Drones
In the summer of 2009, Code Pink began their "Ground the Drones" campaign. This campaign was a response to the Obama administration's continued and increased use of unmanned drones in the "war on terror," specifically in regions surrounding Pakistan and Afghanistan. Code Pinks claims that many of the drone strikes intended to target terrorist leaders and strongholds often miss their targets, causing the unnecessary deaths of innocent civilians.
"Ground the Drones" was fashioned as a form of non-violent, civil disobedience, similar to protests earlier that spring, by groups such as Voices for Creative Non Violence. Code Pink targeted Creech Air Force base in Indian Springs, Nevada, claiming it is the “epicenter” for controlling drone activity. The goal of the protest was "halting unmanned aircraft strikes controlled via satellite links from Creech and other bases." The group continued protesting at Creech AFB through until November and December 2009. Code Pink returned to Creech AFB in October 2011, along with other protest groups, to mark the 10th anniversary of the occupation of Afghanistan. Protesters dubbed it as the "largest anti-war demonstration ever at Creech Air Force Base.
In August of 2013, Code Pink's national coordinator, Alli McCracken, disrupted the annual Aerial Unmanned Vehicles Systems Integrated summit, in Washington, DC. During a speech advocating the full automation of unmanned drones, McCracken interrupted by shouting “Are you going to talk about the innocent people who have been killed by the drones?,” while producing a "STOP KILLER DRONES" banner, until she was escorted out by security.
In November 2013, Code Pink organized a "Ground the Drones." The summit took place over two days and was held at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. The summit featured films pertaining to drone warfare, as well as a variety of guest speakers from various human rights and civil liberties organizations. Topics of the summit included ethical and legal arguments surrounding drone warfare, as well as concerns over the use of drones domestically.
"Ground the Drones" has also attempted to involve American citizens in the fight to end drone warfare. Code Pink's website advises readers to take action by, among other ways, contacting their local representatives, organizing film-screenings, and distributing pamphlets.
Halloween 2009 White House protest
On October 31, 2009, Code Pink organized a protest rally outside the White House to coincide with President and Mrs. Obama's official Halloween party. As many of the guests were family members of military members, the Code Pink press release encouraged attendees to dress as "zombie soldiers". The event gained some notoriety when complaints surfaced about Reuters' characterization of their protest as "taunting" children, a characterization that Reuters stood by.
Code Pink has organized more than seven delegations to Gaza. Critics have since accused Code Pink of working "closely with terrorist organizations and states sponsors of terrorism" in Gaza and Iran. Prior to the Gaza Freedom March, Code Pink endorsed the “Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid", which calls for comprehensive boycott of Israel.
During the Gaza Freedom March, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin coordinated the organization's stay with the Hamas government. Members resided in the Commodore, a Hamas-owned hotel in Gaza City. Hamas security officials accompanied activists as they visited Palestinian homes and Gaza-based NGOs. Prior to the march, Benjamin said the Hamas government had "pledged to ensure our safety." However, Code Pink leaders claimed Hamas had hijacked the initiative from the onset after imposing prohibitions on the organizations movements around Gaza. Amira Hass referred to the event as "an opportunity for Hamas cabinet ministers to get decent media coverage in the company of Western demonstrators."
Code Pink helped to organize an International Women's Day Delegation to Gaza in March 2014. Upon arrival at the Cairo airport on March 3, 2014, Medea Benjamin was detained and assaulted by Egyptian authorities. She was deported to Turkey after the authorities had dislocated her shoulder. Other members of the international delegation, including American, French, Belgian, and British citizens, who arrived the next day were also deported. Some members made it into Cairo, although no one from the delegation made it to Gaza.
National Rifle Association Protest 2012
Code Pink protesters were present at the National Rifle Association's first press conference following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where N.R.A.'s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre advocated placing armed guards in schools and said "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun."
Protest against intervention in Syria
In 2005, Code Pink published a book called Stop the Next War Now, which included essays by Eve Ensler, Barbara Lee, Arianna Huffington, Janeane Garofalo, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jody Williams, Naomi Klein, Benazir Bhutto, Helen Thomas, Julia Butterfly Hill, Amy Goodman, Doris Haddock, Cynthia McKinney, Gael Murphy and others.
- Jon Stewart letter supporting Code Pink is fake
- Code Pink activists shown the red card at John Brennan Senate hearing
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