I was standing alone in the center of the block a few yards east of the military recruiting center on Speedway Boulevard and Wilson Avenue during our regular Wednesday-morning protest against recruiting young people into the military.
Most other protesters had moved to Speedway and Campbell Avenue to avoid confrontation with counter-protesters, one of whom was once quoted in the Tucson Citizen as saying, "We cover their signs with our flags. We don't think people should have to be subjected to their opinions."
They've blown cigar smoke into the face of a woman on oxygen, shouted obscenities into the face of a man in a wheelchair, hit us with signs, shoved us off the sidewalk and spewed pornographic insults and death threats such as, "Traitors like you should be shot. But a bullet through the head is too good for you. I'd like to do the job myself, and I'd like to hang you. I want to see you suffer before you die."
While the cops were watching, there were no problems, but the police disappeared when the counter-protesters arrived. I told Chief Richard Miranda at a meeting exactly what I would do to protect myself if he wouldn't provide protection, and that's exactly what I did on June 20: I stepped from the sidewalk into the bicycle lane to avoid a couple of nasty women.
They had wiped their feet on a United Nations flag and--proudly waving the Stars and Stripes, an Israeli flag and a couple of "nuke-'em-all" signs--were strutting toward me and my sign, "BRING 'EM HOME, Honk for Peace."
One of those women likes to dress like Uncle Sam and had assaulted me on two occasions before June 20. I have a tape showing her, at a demonstration elsewhere, shoving me off the sidewalk and looking enormously pleased with herself. The judge didn't want to see the tape.
I don't remember if she was wearing her Uncle Sam suit a few months ago when she dashed across the street to the median where I was waiting to cross. "I'm taking that sign away from you!" she yelled.
She was chasing and grabbing at me, but her buddies pretended not to notice. I went into traffic, and a fellow driving by called the cops.
Five or six police officers arrived and told me to stay off the street. I took my sign back to where I usually stand, and a big son of a Marine crept over and threatened me with a flag and his "Nuke Iran and Syria! Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out" sign. I stepped into the bike lane. The kid ran away; a cop saw me in the street, and I got arrested.
That case was dismissed. This time, I told the judge what happened on June 20, and she told me, "$500 suspended fine and 12 months unsupervised probation. Do not enter a highway or public thoroughfare while demonstrating on Speedway."
I don't want to battle in court. I never pressed charges against Ms. Uncle Sam--but the urge to haul off and start punching is something I have to control all the time. "Victim" is not my style, but I've learned what the tragically misguided troops, constantly glorified as heroes, have been trained not to learn: Retaliation is suicide. Brain power, not fire power, is our hope.
Standing in the midst of the flag wavers on Speedway is a former Marine who holds a sign, "Support the troops: Bring them home." He is a hero. Members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom stand on Campbell and Speedway, uniting heroes advocating for the impeachment of the Bush administration.
Nearly every Wednesday morning, somebody now stands with me--a Quaker or two, a lawyer, a landscaper, a couple of secretaries, a real estate agent, a truck driver. We are heroes; we represent the majority of the American people.
We, the peacemakers everywhere, will rebuild this world as the paradise it was meant to be. Our collective awareness will heal the bullies, and will expose and disarm the narcissistic tyrants who are destroying our children and our planet. We will take back America for the people.