Code Pink

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Code Pink: Women for Peace
Code Pink activists demonstrate in front of the White House on July 4, 2006.
Code Pink activists demonstrate in front of the White House on July 4, 2006.
FormationNovember 17, 2002; 19 years ago (2002-11-17)
PurposeAnti-war, social justice
Key people
Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin
AffiliationsProgressive International[1]

Code Pink: Women for Peace (often stylized as CODEPINK) is a left-wing internationally active non-governmental organization 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." In addition to its focus on anti-war issues, it has taken action on issues such as drones, Guantanamo Bay prison, Palestinian statehood, the Iran nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia, and Women Cross DMZ.

The organization characterizes itself as female-initiated.[2] It has regional offices in Los Angeles, California and Washington, D.C., and many more chapters in the U.S. as well as several in other countries.[3][4]

With members wearing the group's signature pink color,[5] Code Pink has conducted marches, protests, and other actions in order to promote its goals. Although women initiated and lead the group, Code Pink encourages people of all genders to participate in its activities.[6]


Code Pink protests Democratic senators who supported Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, December 2017

Code Pink was founded on November 17, 2002 by Americans activists including Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin.[3] 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.[7]

In February 2003, shortly 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.[8]

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.[9] Along with other groups, they gave over $600,000 worth of humanitarian aid to refugees of Fallujah in 2004.[10]

In 2014, Code Pink was awarded the US Peace Prize by the US Peace Memorial Foundation "In Recognition of Inspirational Antiwar Leadership and Creative Grassroots Activism."[11][12]

Demonstrations at Walter Reed Medical Center[edit]

Code Pink participated in vigils at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. According to CNS News, the group was criticized by some conservative supporters of the war. Speaking about the display of coffins by the vigilers, 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."[13] To those who objected to 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.[14] Code Pink said that the purpose of the vigils was to highlight the lack of care for veterans and that the vigils have helped achieve improvements in that care.[14][15]

Tucker Carlson interview[edit]

In 2006, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin said that it was a myth that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had limited freedom of speech and eroded civil rights in Venezuela. In May 2007, Benjamin appeared as a guest on talk-show host Tucker Carlson's show, which was then part of MSNBC's schedule. Carlson criticised Benjamin for her statement and asked her: "Do you want to revise that given the news that Hugo Chávez has closed the last nationally broadcast opposition television station for criticizing him?" Benjamin replied that Chávez had not renewed the license of RCTV 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?"[16]

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, "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."[16]

Ground the Drones[edit]

In the summer of 2009, Code Pink began their "Ground the Drones" campaign.[17] 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 Pink said that many of the drone strikes intended to target terrorist leaders and strongholds often miss their targets, causing the unnecessary deaths of innocent civilians.[18]

"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.[17] Code Pink targeted Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, claiming it was the "epicenter" for controlling drone activity.[18] The goal of the protest was "halting unmanned aircraft strikes controlled via satellite links from Creech and other bases."[17] The group continued protesting at Creech AFB through 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 the "largest anti-war demonstration ever at Creech Air Force Base.[19]

In August 2013, Code Pink's national coordinator, Alli McCracken, disrupted the annual Aerial Unmanned Vehicles Systems Integrated summit, in Washington, D.C.. 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.[20]

In November 2013, Code Pink organized a "Ground the Drones" summit. 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 guest speakers from 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.[18]

"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 contacting their local representatives, organizing film-screenings, and distributing pamphlets, among other means.[18]

Halloween 2009 White House protest[edit]

On October 31, 2009, Code Pink organized a protest rally outside the White House to coincide with President Barack Obama's official Halloween party. As many of the guests were family members of military personnel, the press release issued by Code Pink encouraged attendees to dress as "zombie soldiers".[21] The event gained some attention when complaints surfaced about Reuters' characterization of their protest as "taunting" children, a characterization that Reuters stood by.[22]

Gaza activities[edit]

Code Pink has organized more than seven delegations to Gaza, some of them at the invitation of the United Nations.

Code Pink was criticised by Joshua Block, president and CEO of the Israel Project, for arranging a peace delegation to Iran in January 2019.[23]

Prior to the Gaza Freedom March, Code Pink endorsed the “Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid", which calls for comprehensive boycott of Israel.[24] During the march, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin coordinated the organization's stay with Hamas. 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.[25] Prior to the march, Benjamin said the Hamas government had "pledged to ensure our safety."[26] However, Code Pink leaders claimed Hamas had hijacked the initiative from the onset after imposing prohibitions on the organization's 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."[25]

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, Benjamin was detained and assaulted by Egyptian authorities. She was deported to Turkey after the authorities had dislocated her shoulder.[27] 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.

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange[edit]

In June 2015, Code Pink organised a campaign pressuring the US government to give Edward Snowden back his passport. Co-founders Evans and Benjamin spoke to Julian Assange (then confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London) on this issue.[28] Code Pink have since launched a similar campaign calling for the release of Assange himself.[29]

Protests: NRA, Syria and Islamic State[edit]

Code Pink protesters were present at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) first press conference following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where NRA'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."[30]

About ten activists of Code Pink demonstrated in U.S. Congress against military attacks in retaliation for Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against its own people.[31][32]

Code Pink activists demonstrated in Capitol Hill against the American intervention in Syria and Iraq to stop ISIS.[33]

Arrests during Senate hearing[edit]

Code Pink protesters showed up at the Senate Arms Services hearing to heckle Henry Kissinger and called him and chairman Senator John McCain war criminals. Senator McCain restored order and called for the Sergeant at Arms and the Capital Hill Police to escort Code Pink out of the building and called after them "Get out of here you lowlife scum!" [34]

Code Pink member Desiree Fairooz was arrested for laughing after a description of Senator Jeff Sessions by Alabama U.S. Senator Richard Shelby of the nominee as having a history of his "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented," during the January 2017 confirmation hearing as United States Attorney General. After she had been convicted at trial, that verdict was reversed by the chief District Court Judge Robert Morin. The judge said Fairooz should not have been tried for laughing, only for speaking out as she was being removed, and called a mistrial. Instead of dismissing the case, Morin set her retrial for September.[35] Fairooz faced up to a year in prison and $2,000 in fines for disruptive and disorderly conduct and obstructing and impeding passage on US Capitol grounds.[36] On November 6, 2017, District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu filed a notice of nolle prosequi in the case against Desiree Fairooz.[37] Upon the decision, Code Pink released a statement calling the 3 trials a waste of time and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, adding, "These sentences are designed to discourage dissent and prevent activists from engaging in the daily protests that are taking place during a tumultuous time."[38] From the January 20 protests of the inauguration of Donald Trump, the United States Department of Justice is prosecuting 200 people on multiple felony charges.[37]

Support for Iranian weapons programs[edit]

In March 2019 while visiting Iran, Code Pink representatives voiced support for Iran's developing missile technology, saying that "since the US has military bases around Iran, it is Iran’s right to upgrade its defense capability".[39]

Occupation of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C.[edit]

During the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, the US Government broke relations with the Nicolás Maduro administration and recognized Juan Guaidó as the acting president of Venezuela. On 10 April 2019, after the Maduro administration retired his diplomats from the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, US activists from Code Pink received keycards from the diplomats, moved into the building, and secured all entrances with chains and locks as Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó's ambassador appointed to the US, tried to gain access to the building. The US government considers the embassy as property of Guaidó's interim government. Clashes in May 2019 between US activists and pro-Guaidó Venezuelan demonstrators resulted in arrests on both sides.[40] US authorities issued an eviction notice on the group on May 14.[41] The last four activists were removed from the embassy by agents from the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and the US Secret Service on May 16.[42]

At the end of July 2019, some members of Code Pink that occupied the embassy visited Venezuela during the Foro de São Paulo. Maduro posed for pictures with the group and rewarded them with gifts, including a book on Simón Bolívar and a replica of Bolivar's sword.[43]

Later in 2021 Code Pink started collecting signatures to ask for the release of Colombian businessman Alex Saab, arrested and charged by the Justice Department with eight counts of money laundering, accused of moving $350 million out of Venezuela into accounts controlled in the United States.[44]

National day of action to withdraw US troops from Iraq[edit]

Following the January 2020 assassination of Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran's Quds Force, and of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces by a US drone attack at Baghdad airport,[45] Code Pink together with a number of other civil society groups called for a "national day of action" in 30 large US cities to request the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.[46][47] Thousands marched in over 80 cities across the country to protest against a possible war against Iran.[48][49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Members". Progressive International. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  2. ^ Harris, Paul (February 7, 2013). "Code Pink activists shown the red card at John Brennan Senate hearing". The Guardian. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Code Pink "About Us" page Archived February 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  5. ^ Copeland, Libby (June 10, 2007), "Protesting for Peace With a Vivid Hue and Cry: Code Pink's Tactics: Often Theatrical, Always Colorful", The Washington Post, p. D01
  6. ^ Just the Beginning, CP, archived from the original on 2008-02-12, retrieved 2008-02-24
  7. ^ CODEPINK Frequently Asked Questions, archived from the original on 2008-02-12, retrieved 2008-02-20
  8. ^ Corbett, Rachel; Tranovich, Anja (20 March 2006), "The Normalcy of Fear", The Nation
  9. ^ Families For Peace Delegation Archived July 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Code Pink Website. Retrieved 3 July 2006.
  10. ^ U.S. delegation goes to Middle East, Democracy Now! Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  11. ^ "CODEPINK Awarded 2014 US Peace Prize". Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  12. ^ Bermudez, Adam (9 August 2014). "2014 US Peace Memorial Peace Prize Awarded to CODE PINK". The Bronx Chronicle. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  13. ^ Morano, Marc (2005-08-25). "Anti-War Protests Target Wounded at Army Hospital". Cybercast News Service. Archived from the original on December 18, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  14. ^ a b "Statement on Vigil Outside of Walter Reed Hospital" (Press release). Code Pink. 2005-08-26. Archived from the original on 2008-01-14. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  15. ^ "Activists See Deception in Night Arrivals". Stars and Stripes. 2005-03-31. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  16. ^ a b "'Tucker' for May 29". NBC News. May 30, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  17. ^ a b c Blanchard, Eric (2011), "The technoscience question in feminist International Relations: Unmanning the U.S. war on terror", in Tickner, J. Ann; Sjoberg, Laura (eds.), Feminism and International Relations: Conversations about the past, present, and future, London, pp. 146–163
  18. ^ a b c d "Take Action!". Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  19. ^ "CODEPINK Joins Largest Ever Anti-Drone and Anti-Nuclear Actions Sunday at NNSS and Creech AFB". 7 October 2011. Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  20. ^ "Codepink protester disrupts drone lobby summit, says it's time to ground the killer drones". 13 August 2013. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  21. ^ Code Pink Press Release Archived October 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 21 Dec 2009
  22. ^ Reuters Reader Feedback Forum Accessed 21 Dec 2009
  23. ^ Code Pinks trip to Iran is a peace delegation in name only, The Jerusalem Post
  24. ^ "Gaza Freedom Marchers issue the "Cairo Declaration" to end Israeli Apartheid". Indybay.
  25. ^ a b "Pro-Gaza Activists Under Siege - Imposed by Egypt and Hamas". Haaretz.
  26. ^ "We Are Hometown News - Massachusetts women march for freedom in the Middle East". The Reminder. 2008-12-27. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  27. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (4 March 2014). "U.S. Activist Says Egyptian Police Assaulted Her". The New York Times.
  28. ^ "Our Birthday Present for Ed Snowden". CODEPINK - Women for Peace.
  29. ^ "Release Julian Assange". CODEPINK - Women for Peace.
  30. ^ CODEPINK Protesters Unfurl Banners “NRA KILLING OUR KIDS” and “NRA BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS” at first NRA Press Conference after Newtown Shooting Archived 2013-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Published December 21, 2012
  31. ^ Ferraro, Thomas (4 September 2013). "Red-stained hands wave in protest at U.S. hearing on Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  32. ^ "One Winner in the Syria Debate: Code Pink". National Journal. 2013-09-10.
  33. ^ "John Kerry Takes On Code Pink At ISIS Hearing". The Huffington Post. 2014-09-17.
  34. ^ "Get out of here you low life scum." (C-SPAN), archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2020-02-06
  35. ^ Judge throws out conviction for Code Pink activist arrested after laughing during Jeff Sessions' confirmation, Washington Examiner, Josh Siegel, July 14, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  36. ^ Inklebarger, Timothy. ""Laughing Librarian" Gets the Last Laugh". American Librarian. American Librarian. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  37. ^ a b ROSENBLATT, KALHAN. "Charges Dropped Against Woman Who Laughed During Jeff Sessions Hearing by KALHAN ROSENBLATT SHARE Share Tweet Email Print". NBC News. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  38. ^ Benjamin, Medea. "CODEPINK Activist Arrested for Laughing at Jeff Sessions' Hearing Will Face Yet Another Trial". CODEPINK. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  39. ^ Frantzman, Seth J. (March 5, 2019). "Iranian Media: Code Pink Defends Iran's Right to Missiles, Slams Israel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  40. ^ Marissa J. Lang (2 May 2019). "We're not going to leave': Three arrested, activists face dwindling supplies on Day 3 of Venezuelan Embassy protests in D.C." The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  41. ^ "Activists at Venezuela Embassy served with eviction notice". The Washington Post. 14 May 2019. Archived from the original on 14 May 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  42. ^ Barnini Chakraborty (16 May 2019). "Federal agents arrest four protesters occupying Venezuelan Embassy in Maduro-Guaido standoff". Fox News. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  43. ^ Lang, Marissa J (1 August 2019). "Activists who occupied Venezuela's embassy in Washington honored at ceremony in Caracas". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  44. ^ "Code Pink pide al departamento de Justicia gringo liberación de Alex Saab". Web Archive. 2021-10-18. Archived from the original on 2021-10-18. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  45. ^ Cohen, Zachary (3 January 2020). "US drone strike ordered by Trump kills top Iranian commander in Baghdad". CNN. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  46. ^ "Sat Jan 4: National Day of Action U.S. Troops Out of Iraq!". Code Pink. 3 January 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  47. ^ Roberts, William (3 January 2020). "Was Trump's order to assassinate Iran's Qassem Soleimani legal?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  48. ^ Padilla, Mariel (4 January 2020). "Antiwar Protesters Across U.S. Condemn Killing of Suleimani". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  49. ^ Johnson, Jake (4 January 2020). "Thousands Take to Streets in More Than 70 Cities Across US to Protest Trump's "Reckless Acts of War" Against Iran". Common Dreams. Retrieved 4 January 2020.

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