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CODEPINK Didn't Stop Traffic, But Police Shut Down Bridge and Arrest Pink Demonstrators
In conjunction with hundreds of peaceful demonstrations around the U.S., CODEPINK Women for Peace marked the death of the 3,000th armed serviceperson with a planned walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. The San Francisco contingent were met by San Francisco City Police, California State Troopers and Golden Gate Bridge Park Security Officers who lied to them, telling them that the bridge was private property and they were not allowed to walk across it. Eight women and two men were arrested, charged with tresspassing and eight were released this evening.
Photo: On January 1st, 2007, Bay Area CODEPINK Women For Peace tried to honor the 3000th United States servicemember to be killed in battle in Iraq. This is one of the very few pictures of the servicemembers' caskets that has been released since the government has officially banned the photographing the returning remains of fallen soldiers. (Source: anonymous)
Monday, January 1, 2007
San Francisco, CA -- According to CODEPINK co-founder, Medea Benjamin, the vigil was one of many across the United States that occurred this New Year's weekend. The intent of organizers of the vigil was to peacefully walk across the bridge and publicly mourn the senseless death of the 3000th United States serviceperson who died in combat in Iraq this past weekend. As the pink pedestrians assembled to walk across the bridge on the San Francisco side, they were met by three sets of law enforcement -- San Francisco Police, State Troopers and Golden Gate State Park Security Officers. No traffic disruption was planned, no signs were involved and demonstrators stayed on the public sidewalk at all times, according to Benjamin. Demonstrators who entered from the Marin County side of the bridge were not harassed or arrested.
The police told the demonstrators that they were not allowed to walk on the bridge, contending that the bridge was private property. The demonstrators asserted their rights as members of the public to walk across the publicly-owned bridge. The police proceeded to arrest members of the group, including Colonel Ann Wright and CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.
"It was ridiculous. At one point, the police told people that anyone dressed in pink wasn't allowed to walk on the bridge," said Benjamin.
For reasons that are unclear, the police shut down the Golden Gate Bridge for three hours Monday afternoon. The result was a significant disruption in traffic on the last day of a holiday weekend -- longer than a walk across the bridge in pedestrian sidewalks by pink-clad demonstators would have likely caused.
The ten arrested were charged with tresspassing despite the fact they were attempting to access public property. As of 8:30 p.m. this evening, eight of the ten protesters had been released. Benjamin says she plans to fight the charges.
Of the more than two hundred vigils planned nationwide marking the death of the 3000th U.S. serviceperson in Iraq, this event in San Francisco was the only one known to have resulted in arrests.
In a related incident, ABC KGO-TV News 7 cameraperson Randy Davis was filming the protest and was told he wasn't allowed to do so by the Golden Gate Park Security. According to an eyewitness, Davis asserted his legal right to film the event and showed his press pass to the officer. The officer then punched Davis in the face and pushed his camera; Davis then shoved back in self-protection.
According to a News 7 6:00 p.m. report, Davis was injured and was being treated at a hospital. His camera was also damaged.
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...for pedestrians to walk across safely. CODEPINK organizer Rae and Elam pose on the bridge, April 2006. (Courtesy: http://www.womensaynotowar.org )