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 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.