On the 11th of November, on the 96th anniversary of the end of WWI, Code Pink showed up outside the police checkpoints and cattle chute fences of the so-called “Concert for Valor” on the Mall. Code Pink was protesting the US return to war in Iraq. During this protest, an incident inside drew a massive police response. I do not know if this was the incident where police pepper sprayed and arrested three people for jumping a fence, or yet another incident. Again, “freedom” American style.
At the time of this massive response by cops on foot and on bike, the checkpoint stopped admitting people and a huge backed-up line formed as a result. There were remarks from some in Code Pink comparing this to the chaos of the first Obama inauguration, which reminded me of the infamous “purple ticket” scandal of spectators left to wait in a tunnel for hours, then not admitted.
Finally, Code Pink headed to a different checkpoint, dropped off their signs with a few activists who were not entering the checkpointed area, and headed inside. I could not follow them there but they seemed to make it in OK. There were reports at the first checkpoint of people who put on Code Pink’s antiwar stickers being refused entry at the checkpoint, while all other messages on T-shirts, etc were admitted. The US Park Police were blamed for this, and in fact an earlier Code Pink team that got inside had been harassed for having any kind of signs or messages.
Beyond the militarized policing and bag searches, there is also the hypocrisy that the Obama government would rather spend money on a concert to honor returning war veterans than on housing homeless veterans. Just like after Vietnam, employers are discriminating against war veterans and in fact, having served with US forces in Iraq is regarded by many as an explicit risk factor for becoming homeless.