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"Citizens Arrest" Attempt at the White House
By Ward Reilly
On Election Day, November 7, 2006, VVAW national-contacts Ward Reilly of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bill Perry of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Patrick McCann of Washington DC, helped organize, and participated in a unique, multi-phased, antiwar action at the White House. It was a 2-day action, during which, among other things, we wrapped the White House in "crime scene tape," and I attempted to exercise my civil rights by performing a "citizens arrest" of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. There were 4 arrests.
I rang the front gate door bell over and over to get the attention of the Secret Service, in order to talk to them about performing the planned "citizens arrest" of Bush and Cheney. The Secret Service was not amused, but talked to me at the front gate, and asked me "what the charges would be brought against Bush and Cheney?" I told them "treason, spying on citizens, kidnapping, torture, lying, using banned weapons, and war crimes." After a short discussion, in which the Secret Service supervisor was called, the agents declined to allow me entry into the White House, to make the arrest.
I pointed out to the 3 (not-so)Secret Service members that "if they denied me my right to make the arrest, that they were complicit in the crimes." I also pointed out to them that "they worked for me," which one of the agents angrily denied. One agent told me that I had to "do it without help, which is why it is called a citizens arrest," and I told him, in reply, that all I wanted him to do was to "open the gate and let me in."
VVAW members Bill Perry on right... Patrick McCann-rear,
salute... Ward Reilly-center, also
"saluting Bush and Cheney"... and friends,
including Ann Wright on phone,
DeDe Miller, Dennis Kyne, and others
Another highlight of the action was the news early in the early morning of November 8 that Donald Rumsfeld had been fired by Bush, only days after Bush said that he had full faith in the Secretary of Defense.
Typical of all politicians, the "buck" never stops at their desk, it just bounces around from one to another, in a blaze of bullshit.
Joining the action was VVAW member Bruce Berry, veteran Mike Hearington, Desert Storm veteran and DU activist Dennis Kyne, former diplomat Ann Wright, former CIA agent Ray McGovern, Gold Star aunt DeDe Miller, Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan, musician Jesse Dyen, the musical duo of Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow, who are known as "Emma's Revolution," and a few dozen other activists. It was intentionally a small and personal action, and it was very effective. It was guerilla theatre with plenty of anger and sadness mixed together.
During the 2 days, the small group took turns reading the name, rank, age, and hometown of all the US KIAs in the Iraq War, using a LOUD megaphone. It took about 4 hours to go through the list, and we did it four times during 2 days, with the megaphone pointed directly at the CIC office.
We also attempted to deliver a petition signed by 80,000 citizens, which the White House police refused to accept, so we threw the petition on the front lawn, through the fence. The petition demanded the end to the war, and the immediate pull out of the occupying army.
At about mid-morning on the 7th, I produced a roll of bright yellow tape with the words "crime scene-do not cross" on it, and the group unrolled the tape until it went completely around the front fence of the White House, about 300 yards, or so. A group of high school students were enthralled by the events unfolding in front of their eyes, and they asked if they could stand with us, which they did, none to the joy of their teachers, who were escorting them.
Amazingly, the Secret Service allowed the tape to be carried back and forth in front of the entire White House, and the national Press Corp, stationed on the front lawn, sent several camera crews out to record the event. I also tied a piece of the crime scene tape to the front fence, which the Secret Service ordered to be removed, but it stayed on the fence long enough to be photographed.
To end the 2-day action, the 4 Gold Star moms chose to be arrested by blocking the main entrance in the front the White House, with the rest of our crew encircling them in support, as per the plan.
Isn't it just like George W. Bush to arrest those that have already been hurt the most by his illegal and pathetic attempt to "one-up" his daddy? The occupants of the White House continue to disgrace our house every day they are allowed to continue to live there.
All in all, it was a GREAT action, and VVAW was well represented, and I wish all of our members could have been there.
Ward Reilly is the Southeast national contact for VVAW. He was a volunteer infantryman serving in the famed 1st & 16th (Rangers) of the First Infantry Division from 1971–74, spending a thousand straight days in Germany with the Big Red One. He joined VVAW originally in 1972 and re-upped in 2001.