How I Almost Went To Juvie
We had a ten minute warning. The paddy wagon was on its way. What was our heinous crime worthy of being surrounded by the Federal Police and Mounted Patrol? Peaceful protest. Actually, it was barely even peaceful protest, more like peaceful picnicking with banners.It was part of CODEPINK’s fifth annual walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
CODEPINK is an anti-war and human rights organization founded by under the idea of “women for peace” in 2002. Since then, it has grown to become one of the leading activism groups in the country, traveling to Afghanistan, interrupting meetings in Congress, and supporting Occupy Wall Street.
Between twenty and thirty people walked from each end of the bridge and met in the middle. We were all dressed up in pink and smiles, flashing the peace sign, and carrying signs saying “Peace Now”, “Bring Our War $$ Home”, and “Ground the Drones” as drivers honked and pedestrians cheered us on.
It was a beautiful day and a terrifically fun protest, and being the social animals that we are, the “Codepinkers” later gathered in Crissy Fields for a potluck. We shared food, stories, and hugs, and attached our signs and banners to a nearby fence so that people who were interested would know why we were there. Apparently this goes against the federal code.
A police car pulled up and three Federal Police Officers stepped out. They told us that we weren’t allowed to be there because we had signs and banners. Yes, we had signs and banners, but we weren’t doing anything with them. We were having a picnic, just like most of the people in the park.
We explained this to the officers as we took down our banners and laid them out on the ground as our picnic blankets. This gesture still wasn’t enough for them as we hadn’t done what they had specifically asked: leave or get rid of the banners. Suddenly, I noticed that the police men seemed to be multiplying. Instead of three on one side of us, there were now nine — one was on horseback — surrounding us on all sides.
Somebody said that the paddy wagon was coming and they were going to start arresting people soon. My body rushed with adrenaline as I tried to mentally prepare myself for being handcuffed. I started wondering things I had never thought about before, like where is juvie? is it close to the regular jail? how am I going to find everyone after they release us? will they actually put us in a cell?
Women from CODEPINK continued to talk to the officers, trying to come to an agreement that wouldn’t ruin our picnic and finally they reached one. It was decided that as long as we didn’t hold the signs or attach them to the fence, we could stay.
It was a victory for peaceful protest, the best way to make a stand. This day demonstrated one of the advantages of peaceful protest, mainly its peacefulness. The police officers din’t really want to arrest us because it would have been much worse for them than for us. A few hours in jail are no big deal, but getting in the news for arresting a handful of peaceful protesters is a nightmare for the police.
I’m glad I didn’t get arrested (yet), but it would have been a very poetic way to celebrate the fifth anniversary of CODEPINK’s walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, as the participants in that first walk did get arrested for “trespassing” the bridge, an equally ridiculous charge as picnicking with banners.
Other stories in Columns
- Are You Ready to Live a Vegetarian Lifestyle? - April 26, 2012
- Tricks of the Trade: Senioritis - April 23, 2012
- Hanging in the Balance: The Struggle in the High School Years - March 12, 2012
- America's Secret War - March 9, 2012
- For a Better Build, Play in Water - March 8, 2012