Videos>Washington D.C.>Pepper-Sprayed for Peace

Pepper-Sprayed for Peace

David Swanson   Published: Sunday 9 October 2011    Nation of Change
War is A Crime Video Compilation 

A lot of people were effected, directly or — like me — indirectly by the pepper spray.

I’ve been coughing and vomiting, and my head aches from pepper spray.  I’ll post videos and photos of why at the link above.

We intended to hold signs and sing inside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, protesting its promotion of unmanned drones, missiles, and bombs, including its sponsorship by and promotion of weapons corporations.  We don’t have any museums promoting health coverage or education or retirement security.

We had marched from the Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations, taking over the streets of DC.  The museum knew we were coming.  Some of our group got in and dropped a banner.  Hundreds of us did not.  Instead, we were greeted at the door with cans of pepper spray. 

There were three sets of entrance doors.  I was among the first to open the third set of doors.  A guard shook a can of pepper spray in front of me and demanded that we back out.  But a dozen feet away at the second set of doors, people were staggering out and collapsing in pain, having been pepper sprayed in the face.  I started to go toward them, but began coughing and vomiting.  A lot of people were effected, directly or — like me — indirectly by the pepper spray.

It is not true that we assaulted the police.  Nobody was accused of or charged with that.  I didn’t hear about it until later from the media.  A young woman named Thi Le was told she’d be charged with assaulting a police officer after she was pepper sprayed and handcuffed, but they switched the charge to disorderly conduct and released her a few hours later. 

It is not true that they only pepper sprayed one person.  Many people were pepper sprayed.

It is not true that the crowd dispersed.  The guards locked the doors and closed the museum.  We had not planned to close the museum but to demonstrate and leave.  With the museum closed and one of our own in custody, we held a rally on the steps as more people made their way over from Freedom Plaza to join us.  We were there for hours. 

We will be here for as long as it takes. 

Con­gress comes back to this town on Tues­day.

We’re ready.

We’re non­vi­o­lent.

We’re not scared.

We’re not dis­cour­aged.

We’re not fooled.

We’ve got de­mands as clear as a blue sky:

Oc­cupy Wall Street
Oc­cupy K Street
Oc­cupy Every­thing
And Never Give it Back!

(more videos attached)

Vet­er­ans For Peace is­sues the fol­low­ing state­ment from Free­dom Plaza, Wash­ing­ton D.C., 6pm Sat­ur­day Oc­to­ber 8.

Ap­prox­i­mately 50 mem­bers of Vet­er­ans For Peace par­tic­i­pated in a march this af­ter­noon from Free­dom Plaza to the Smith­son­ian Air and Space Mu­seum on the Na­tional Mall.  The mu­seum was fea­tur­ing an ex­hibit on un­manned drone bombers that a group of about 250 peo­ple from the October2011.​org en­camp­ment at Free­dom Plaza in­tended to protest.

The marchers as­cended the mu­seum steps, chant­ing, “When drones fly, chil­dren die.”

They opened the doors at one of the three en­trances, and when that en­try­way be­came full, they went to the sec­ond and third en­trances.

VFP Act­ing Di­rec­tor Mike Ferner said, “I was at the first en­trance­way, hold­ing the door open for peo­ple to enter. I saw a po­lice or se­cu­rity of­fi­cer in a white shirt hold his hands up, telling peo­ple to stop. The marchers con­tin­ued and the of­fi­cer began pep­per-spray­ing every­one. From every­thing I saw until that mo­ment, there was no rea­son for the pep­per-spray­ing. The door of the mu­seum clearly said “free ad­mis­sion.” It did not say “Free ad­mis­sion if you are quiet” or “Free ad­mis­sion un­less you have opin­ions con­trary to gov­ern­ment pol­icy.’

“This was a clear abuse of au­thor­ity and a use of force far be­yond what was called for.  Our mem­bers are con­sult­ing with Na­tional Lawyers Guild at­tor­neys who are work­ing with the october2011.​org en­camp­ment.”

“We are aware that one of the marchers shoved aside one of the of­fi­cers.  We do not con­done this be­hav­ior.”

Vet­er­ans For Peace is one of sev­eral groups or­ga­niz­ing the October2011.​org en­camp­ment.  VFP is an or­ga­ni­za­tion com­posed of U.S. mil­i­tary vet­er­ans from WWII, the Ko­rean War, Viet­nam, Per­sian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars and every pe­riod in be­tween.

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