January 10, 2017
Code Pink was one of the organizations that disrupted the Senate confirmation hearings of Jeff Sessions today. The staff of refusefascism.org interviewed Code Pink spokesperson Medea Benjamin on what they did, and why.
Q: Could you tell us what happened today, at the Sessions hearing, what Code Pink did. I saw some clips on TV of people being hauled out of the room, I read your press release, but if you could give us a fuller picture of what people did.
Medea Benjamin: Well, we started out with two of our members dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan, with white hoods on, and white sheets. They got up on chairs before the hearing started and were doing a parody, saying “hey, Sessions, he’s our boy, we’re so glad you’re gonna be in charge. We’ll go back to the good old days”. They started getting dragged out, and they shouted “hey, you can’t arrest me, I’m a white guy”. And, well, they got arrested.
And then we had another woman who got arrested simply for actually laughing when one of the people introducing Sessions said his stellar record speaks for itself! Then of course a number of other people got arrested for different things. Many of us were there with our Lady Liberty costumes, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. We had signs saying “end racism, Stop Sessions”, “No To Islamophobia, Stop Sessions”, and other messages of that sort. Messages like supporting the LGBTQ community ….
One person from Code Pink is still in jail and two people are out. They were charged with “disrupting Congress”, even though the people who are out did their disrupting before the Congressional hearing even started.
Q: What inspired and motivated people to do this?
MB: Well, we have been more and more shocked by, not only Donald Trump’s declaration of victory, but his cabinet picks. Each one has been worse than the other one. So, we have been determined to protest as many of them as we could. And we’re particularly concerned about Jeff Sessions as the attorney general, because this is the highest law enforcement agency of the land. To have someone who has the reputation and record of being a racist, and an Islamophobe, an anti-LGBTQ community person, is a terrible thing.
So, we do these things to show the American people that there are those of us concerned who are courageous enough to stand up, and try to inspire a lot of people. We do it to show the global community that there are Americans willing to stand up. And we do it because we care about our country, and its future. Many of us have kids, and grandkids, and we’re concerned about their future. So, for all of those reasons we were there, speaking out.
Q: Where do you think things go from here?
MB – I think there is going to be a very spineless, a very weak, for the most part, opposition on the part of the Democrats. And it’s going to be up to us, the people, to have the spine. Not only at these hearings, but speaking out, having acts of civil disobedience, to be out on the streets. To find the creative ways of protesting and mobilizing. And I think today was a great example of people who are coming from different backgrounds, different organizations, to focus on different issues.
But they recognize how all of these issues are connected. There were people from the immigrant’s rights community. People from the Black community. People from Refuse Fascism were there. Marijuana initiative people. Statehood DC. NAACP was there.
There were about 20 people arrested today. And some of those were arrested in a sit in they did in Jeff Sessions’ office. So not all of them were arrested in the hearing room. In fact some of the people arrested in his office were from the immigrant community, some were from a group called Democracy Spring that focuses on money and politics. And students from Howard University were there.