Cheney in Chains
Small is beautiful!
Our September 8th sit-in — to tell Vice-President Dick Cheney during his visit to Rome that he was NOT welcome — went over really well despite our numbers.
Cheney had been on a tour that took him to Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and then to a few European capitals, including Rome, to garner support for possible U.S. interventionism in the former Soviet Republics (and possibly Iran as well).
Gene did a marvellous job getting the press to come (as well as two of his B&B guests, all the way from Ireland), Anna and Greg looked great in their costumes (made by Steph, Maria, Ben) and Rose's string of crimes committed by Cheney filled out the square like a theatrical backdrop.
Our group also included a representative of the D.C. section of Poets Against the War, a Roman supporting the Dal Molin protest movement, Piero Leone from the Girotondi (who helped distribute flyers), a few Comunisti uniti and an Iraqi with the flag of Iraq. The Palazzo Venezia librarians, who let us recharge the megaphone battery at their desk, congratulated us and took 100 anti-Cheney flyers to distribute for us. (We distributed 500 flyers in all.)
Among the many tourists who stopped to chat was, from Hiroshima, Prof. Dr. Mitsuo Okamoto and his wife (he's the Director of the Hiroshima Center for Nonviolence & Peace). An honor, indeed. They signed up for our mailing list.
An incident worth noting: at one point Anna and Greg, in their Bush and Cheney gear, tried a tactic aimed at grabbing the eye of the hurrying passers-by and shaking them up a bit. "Cheney" and "Rice" stepped down from the grassy area designated for our sit-in and started walking along the sidewalk with the pedestrians, then crossed the street with them. Did THAT shake up the passers-by at all? No, sir. They just took Anna and Greg in as though they were people you might encounter anywhere and continued scuttling along.
The foray shook up the undercover cops, however. Alarmed, they started to chase after the two VIPS and got them to return to their assigned zone.
There was in fact a surprisingly huge turnout from the police — something one does not normally see for a simple "presidio". Apparently there were orders from above are to show the real Cheney, on his visit, that the current Italian government is getting tough with the peaceniks. The scandalous police violence at Vicenza the day before is the prime example of that, of course.
Everything went peacefully enough at our sit-in, however. One of the plain clothesmen, chatting informally with us, said we were doing a great job and that he was confident Cheney would not get Italian support for an attack on Iran: "We've got too many economic ties with Iran, so I'm optimistic." One would wish for a better reason not to make war, but let's hope he's right.
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