Cindy Sheehan - Alternative Voices
On Monday, February 6th, Cindy Sheehan returned to Rome to participate in a week long event promoted by Le Monde Diplomatique and Il Manifesto. The series of seminars was titled, "Voci della resistenza, voci dell’alternativa" and was held in the Sala della Protomoteca del Campidoglio and the Architecture Faculty of Roma Tre University. The Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni opened the conference along with Gino Strada, of Emergency and Gianni Minà, editor of the magazine Latinoamerica.
Cindy Sheehan was able to share with the participants her recent experience in Washington, D.C. at the State of the Union address. She was invited to attend President Bush’s speech, by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey. Ms. Sheehan arrived early and was in her seat by 8:30 pm, a half hour before the event was due to start. She was feeling warm and so took off her jacket, not remembering that she was wearing a t-shirt stating the number of U.S. service people who had died in Iraq- 2245. Within a minute, a guard shouted “protester” and grabbed Ms. Sheehan from her seat quite roughly. Sheehan reported that she still felt sore and had bruises from being pushed out of the room, handcuffed and taken to a police station to be arrested. She was held for 3-4 hours.
Two interesting facts that Cindy Sheehan pointed out was that when CNN reported the story they used an “archived” photo of her from an earlier protest, where she was unfurling a banner with an anti war slogan on it, and used that photo with this recent event, to give the impression that that was the reason she was removed from the State of the Union address and arrested. She went on to explain that five corporations own/control most of the nations’ media industry and she thought this was just another example of how the truth is manipulated in present day U.S.
She also pointed out that there was another woman at the State of the Union address with a "political" t-shirt supporting the troops but she was merely escorted out of the assembly and not arrested, though resisted and also called the officers "idiots". Sheehan was not convinced that citizens opposing the war were having their freedom of speech protected adequately.
Gino Strada referred to the title of the night's session, Peace and Democracy. It is his opinion that we've become too attached to the word "democracy." He didn't see its relation to peace. He noted that the major wars in the past decades had always been instigated by democracies. And that the simple act of voting has become proof of democracy. He suggested that we instead concentrate on "participation."
About ten members of U.S Citizens for Peace and Justice attended this opening session of the conference. We were able to exercise our freedom of speech and brought in our “Impeach Bush” signs, our U.S. Peace flag and one member was even wearing a t-shirt with an image of Bush with the words, “International Terrorist” written. Many of us were able to meet and exchange comments with Ms. Sheehan. When we told her about getting our “Stop the War” message on the NBC Today show earlier in the afternoon in Piazza Navona, she was quite complimentary and encouraged us to keep up the good fight.
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