Medea Benjamin : Death Marchers Haunt New Bush Library Digs

Demonstrators from March of the Dead protest in front of Dallas SWAT officers during groundbreaking at new George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU, Nov. 16, 2010. Photo by G.J. McCarthy / AP.

Breaking new ground:
Protests at the future site
of the George W. Bush Library

By Medea Benjamin / November 19, 2010

DALLAS — Several thousand people lined up to see George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice shovel dirt into a hole at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the site slated to become the George Bush Presidential Center housing a museum, library, and archives.

Over 100 peace activists showed up to protest, including New York City artist Laurie Arbiter, who helped organize a March of the Dead and carried a sign asking “Does America Have a Conscience?” “Rather than build a library, we should leave the broken ground and just fill it with a big pile of rubble,” said Arbiter. “That would truly represent the catastrophic results of the Bush Administration.”

As part of the March of the Dead, protesters dressed in black, wore white death masks and had signs around their necks representing dead Iraqis, Afghans, and U.S. soldiers. The dramatic march stopped traffic and provoked strong emotions in passers-by, participants and even the police.

Renee Schultz, who drove from Indianapolis to join the protest, wore the death mask and a sign representing a 23-year-old female U.S. soldier killed in Iraq. “When I first put on the mask, I just stood there and cried. I kept thinking, ‘I am 23 years old and had my whole life ahead of me. Why did I die?'” Schultz looked over at the riot police and noticed that one of them also had tears streaming down his eyes.

When the marchers attempted to reach the public viewing area, the police forced them back to the designated “protest pen” far from the ceremony. One of the protesters, a wheelchair-bound veteran of the Korean War and World War II, angrily told the police that he did not fight in two wars to be told that his freedom of speech would be confined to a “protest zone.”

The gathering was part of a three-day People’s Response, filled with rallies, marches, teach-ins, and exhibits of crosses and soldiers’ boots to represent the war dead. Organized by Texans for Peace, The Dallas Peace Center, CODEPINK, and Veterans for Peace, among others, the speakers included former FBI agent Colleen Rowley, former CIA agent Ray McGovern, retired Colonel Ann Wright, professor Robert Jensen, and Texas State Representative Lon Burnam.

Also among the protesters was Cindy Sheehan, the Gold Star mother who led a prolonged protest outside Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in 2005. “Bush should not be allowed to profit from war crimes, crimes that he has even admitted to,” said Sheehan. “It’s not right that he will make millions from his book and speaking engagements, while millions have been killed, displaced, tortured and had their lives ruined because of him.”

The whole dang crew: Digging in at groundbreaking ceremony for George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Nov. 16, 2010. Photo by L.M. Otero / AP.

The protesters focused on the lies Bush told the American public to justify invading Iraq, his authorization of torture and the need for accountability. “Accountability is the sign of a true democracy,” said former CIA agent Ray McGovern. “No one should be above the law and the truth must not be buried or rewritten.”

Protesters were also concerned about the policies the new Bush Center will promote. President Bush said the Center would include an “action-oriented institute” to advance the principles his administration stood for, including the “benefits of limiting the role of government in people’s lives.”

According to local organizer Leslie Harris of CodePink, “this really means promoting the same kinds of disastrous policies that brought us preemptive war, economic crisis, environmental disaster, unprecedented presidential power, and diminished civil and human rights. We can’t let one of America’s worst presidents shape our future policies.”

The peace activists who came to protest Bush also discussed their disappointment with the Obama administration and the difficulties they anticipate in pushing the new, more conservative Congress to stop funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the actions they encouraged were:

  • supporting the January 15 FBI protest in Washington DC;
  • promoting local campaigns, including citywide resolutions, to bring our war dollars home;
  • reaching out to allies, particularly groups victimized by the economic crisis, but also reaching out to members of the Tea Party who want to see cuts in Pentagon spending;
  • pressuring the State Department to stop using private security contractors;
  • supporting the December 16 veteran-led civilian disobedience in Washington DC;
  • organizing a delegation to Iraq to take testimony from Iraqis about George Bush and the legacy of the US invasion;
  • stopping John Yoo, author of the “torture memos,” from teaching law at the UC Berkeley law school.

For some light entertainment after long days of protest, a group stopped by local Barnes and Noble to reshelve — and photograph — Bush’s Decision Points in a more appropriate place in the store. These included placing the book next to The Murder Business in the True Crimes section, Wing Nuts in the Fantasy Section, When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice in the Legal Section, and our favorite in the Children’s Section, Dr. Seuss’ Will You Please Go Now?” With the renewed media attention on George Bush, including his sanctioning of torture, Bush might do well to take Dr. Seuss’ advice.

[Medea Benjamin was a founder of CodePink. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/medeabenjamin.]

Source / Huffington Post


Where Bush’s book belongs. Images from Waging Nonviolence.

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5 Responses to Medea Benjamin : Death Marchers Haunt New Bush Library Digs

  1. As a lot of members of the United Methodist Church noted, myself included, and protested In Church, this is an idolatrous temple to himself built on Church Property. The moneychangers aren’t just in the courts of the Temple anymore,they’ve bought the place and installed a graven image on the altar.

  2. The narrative about the protest, the bullet pointed action list, and the “entertainment” at the book store truly helps me understand the antics of Florida Rep Grayson … I mean soon to be EX Florida Rep Grayson. Birds of a feather …

    But at least I can agree with Leslie Harris of CodePink who was quoted as saying “We can’t let one of America’s worst presidents shape our future policies.” I couldn’t agree more and come 2012, one of Americas worst presidents will be unemployed. Maybe W can help him out and give him a job at the new Bush Library? After all, he was a community organizer, perhaps he can learn to be a book organizer and restock the returned books?

  3. Brother Jonah says:

    and then your new TeaBag president will make sure everybody except slave laborers and Police State “security” forces will be unemployed.
    Bush is a murderer, liar and thief, and so is anybody who ever supported him or his policies. Now by building a Temple to himself on church property he’s a blasphemer as well. Christ drove the moneychangers from the temple using a whip made of rope, now the Moneychangers have driven Christ from the Temple with a whip made of braided dollar bills soaked in the blood of children. Rejoice, extremists, your baby-killing party might come back into power. ALL HAIL THE BUSH POLICE STATE! ALLE SIEG HEIL!

    By the way, the things Obama has done wrong was trying to talk rationally and form a coalition with the Bush and Palin anti-American extremists.

  4. The Dallas County PIGS were there not to protect the Free Speech of the protesters from the Tea Bags and other Right Wing Freaks, nor were they there to protect Former Fuhrer Bush, Former First Sow Laura Bush, Former Deputy Fuhrer Cheney nor their Token Ms Rice from any physical danger.

    They were there to protect the Cowards from having to see any representation of the murders and other crimes they ever committed.

    The Dallas PIGS never protect anybody but the rich. Same as the rest of the police departments.
    Mene, mene, tekel upharsim
    Mene, mene, tekel peres.

  5. T.G. Fisher says:

    So, how large does a library have to be to house 97 copies of “My Pet Goat”?

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