CULMINATING CEREMONY

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Wednesday, July 12
Troops Home Fast San Francisco
By Rae Abileah

Today was the final day of our weeklong fast outside of Senator Dianne Feinstein's office in San Francisco. Our culminating ceremony yesterday outside Feinstein's office went really well—we had over 100 people stop into listen to speakers and music, and of course the busy foot traffic during rush hour as well. Speakers were great, including Iraq war veteran Eli Painted Crow, Sureya Sayadi, Fred Jackson—a Vietnam-era vet who speaks like he is lighting the world on fire, Raging Grannies, SF City Supervisor Chris Daly, SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi, hip hop artists Galen and A-1, musicians With Impulse, Aliza Hava, and Tommi and Dianna, Jane Jackson, and more. We had a very diverse turn out—we did a closing circle and each person did an intro and made a commitment of what they were going to do to work for peace each week, which ranged from ongoing fasting, to bringing activism to one young woman's high school, to collecting more voters for peace signatures, to learning to communicate with true non-violence.

Before the ceremony, at 3 pm a group of fasters, including Iraq war veteran Eli Painted Crow, and Kurdish Iraqi activist Sureya Sayadi, went to Feinstein's office to deliver over 1,300 Voters for Peace pledge signatures, a letter inviting our senator to sign onto the Troops Home Fast, a bouquet of flowers to “preemtively thank the senator for listening to the majority of her constituents, Americans, Iraqis, and the Iraqi government, and voting to bring our troops home from Iraq,” and a satin banner that people signed throughout the weeklong vigil with messages to Feinstein. The security guard was very nice but said that her office would not allow us to come up. We pleaded that they at least allow one person to go up, and he made several calls up to her office but we were denied every time. Eli called up and made a very calm and heartfelt plea as an Iraq war vet to speak with someone. Ultimately they took down her info and denied her request. Sureya got on the phone and happened to have the contact of the aide that she and the Iraqi women's delegation met with in DC and she again invited them to either allow one person to go up, or to send someone down. Meanwhile, Leslie from North Bay CODEPINK also tried to get someone from the office to come down and meet with us. The combined efforts of these brave women were successful: two representatives came down from her office and accepted our letter, signatures, banner, and flowers. They stayed for about 10 minutes to hear Eli's words about what it is like to serve in Iraq and why the troops need to come home. They promised a future meeting. We'll see Eli has a very unique and powerful way of speaking and connecting with people and I hope that she may be able to relate this story in writing from her perspective.

We have so many people to thank for making this week of action possible—all the amazing women and men who came to the vigil, some in the early hours of the morning, and some staying through the windy nights; the musicians and performers who wove their arts into the action; the politicians, veterans, Iraqis, and activists who shared their words on the loudspeaker; the Gandhi Peace Brigade with the giant puppet and Jes's awesome enthusiasm; all the endorsing organizations and individuals; the CODEPINK staff and interns and the Bay Area CODEPINK local group; the people who are typing in all the Voters for Peace signatures; our kick off “fast supper” of delicious donated food from the Catholic Worker soup kitchen; the copy shop that gave us free copying because they believe in what we do; the corporate cafes that tolerated our constant stream of people using their bathroom and wireless; Odwalla who donated crates of lemonade; Sam who sold the Street Sheet paper and wore pink, keeping our spirits up; AND TOO MANY PEOPLE TO MENTION!!! I am especially grateful for the opportunity to work with Eli and Sureya, and to bear witness to these two women with their war-torn hearts working together—veteran and Iraqi—embodying peace.

Bay Area CODEPINK will continue taking action by moving their weekly 5:15pm vigil to outside Senator Dianne Feinstein's office (One Post and Market St.). We will also join Jane Jackson (janejackson7555@sbcglobal.net) in the East Bay who will be fasting everyday outside of the Oakland Federal Building at 1301 Clay Street by the 12th Street BART station. Lastly, we are asking everyone in California to call the Senator's office daily at (415) 393-0707 and ask her to vote to bring the troops home.