Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Army Recruiters Frightened by Grannies.

My, what an interesting morning. I was driving down Speedway Blvd. toward Ike's Coffee and Tea at about 8:45 a.m. when I saw the weekly recruiting protest and decided to stop and document the Raging Grannies attempting to enlist. Yesterday I had heard that they might do this and I seriously thought of joining them, but I’m single parenting this week and decided I couldn’t afford a brush with the law. I had my camera with me and wasn’t in my pink attire so I thought I would put on my writer anthropologist hat and document the event. Other press and journalists were there, so I figured if I stayed with them I could figure out what the limits of documentation of an event like this are.

So I parked just past the event and walked back toward it taking photos from across the street, in the median, down the block and then when the Grannies went toward the recruiting station, I followed. I stuck next to the guy from Indy media and didn’t enter to take photos until the people from Channel 13, KOLD, entered. I documented the event with about 80 photos. Pat Birnie of the Raging Grannies reading a prepared statement from the Grannies, a group within WILPF (the women’s international league for peace and freedom). I left when asked and just continued the documentation from outside.

When the police arrived after several minutes and everyone was back on the sidewalk the head recruiter pointed out people he wanted arrested. I was among them. I was shocked. But I cooperated and was cited. I asked lots of questions about why there had been selective pointing out of people. At first and for about 15 minutes no press were being cited. But finally the cops figured out that they had to cite the press too if they were going to site me. So supposedly they did.

All I can make of this is that if you are identifiable as a parent who has come in trying to figure out how to get a daughter’s name off recruiting lists and been refused that information, you are fair game for harassment. Until that point I had never participated in any recruiting protest. I support the soldiers wholeheartedly. I don’t support the war, the administration, or recruitment tactics. After that I went to one other protest on the sidewalk there when a CODEPINK colleague from another state went on to the property to hang signs not knowing how hostile these folks are. When the police came that time they wanted to talk to the ladies in pink. I had been trying to stay off their private property. I walked up to ask the cops to ask a question, and even though I’d done nothing on that property, I was questioned and had my name taken down by officers. Later hat day they came to my house too when I wasn’t there and harassed my daughter frightening her by telling her that they could arrest her mother if anyone pressed charges. For what I have no idea. I’m getting tired of being harassed by these recruiters who are also using the local cops as there goon squad – and both of these groups are paid by my tax money. What happened to protecting the rights of people?

I just end up having more and more questions. The army is publicly funded. Why are the members of the public selectively not allowed on the grounds of recruiting stations when there are no restraining orders in place? I also wonder about having press and documentary workers cited for criminal trespass for being in an office whose functions are paid for by the government. I wonder if I can sue the recruiter for harassment. I also need to figure out how to officially note that the police were not going to cite media until 15 to 20 minutes in to the citation process when it became clear that the charges were trumped up and selectively being issued on a personal basis having nothing to do with the protest.

And I thought I was just going out for coffee. What a morning!

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