Do It Yourself Resistance: A report from a World Can’t Wait organizer in Philadelphia
On November 14th, the Philly chapter of World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime!, organized opposition to John Yoo’s program and book signing. With only three days notice, our small but effective chapter learned that John Yoo was coming to Philly to promote his new book (“War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror”) at the Constitution Center.
Who is John Yoo many were asking? John Yoo is the main legal
architect behind Bush’s response to the “War on Terrorism;” an
unapologetic lawyer calling for unfettered executive power which has
translated into the infringement on civil liberties in the name of
national security. This fairly young attorney has made his career on
re-defining and justifying torture, spying, detention, Gitmo, and the
Patriot Act. He plays a key role in redefining the War Times that we
are living under, and how the US responds within our legal system
nationally and internationally.
We quickly learned about John Yoo and were quite horrified by his
personal contributions to ushering in fascist measures. At UC Berkeley
where Yoo teaches, there are weekly protests outside of his office, and
we started thinking: he needs a good Philly welcome!
We called an emergency meeting a day before the event, and sat around
with articles and talked about Yoo and brainstormed statements for
banners. Tentative plans were made for a group of people to hold a
banner outside of the Constitution Center and another set of people go
inside and listen to Yoo.
With less than 24 hours to put together ANY kind of opposition to Yoo,
we started emailing and calling people to see if they could participate
in the event. In no time, Delaware Valley Veterans for American and
Iraq Vets were interested and planned on attend the Yoo’s program.
There we were on the day of the event standing outside of the Constitution Center with 1 of 2 of our banners: John Yoo is a domestic Terrorist! (see
picture). Two of us went inside with our other banner in a bag. We
had no clue of the layout of the auditorium, where Yoo was sitting, or
if there would be lots of security, etc” We get inside and see many
more people on our side then we had imagined. Somebody who supports
Granny Peace Brigade, some Vets, and another World Can’t Wait
supporter. The program immediately begins with Yoo being interviewed
by another professor from UPENN named Kermit! There is no security in
sight, and 10 minutes go by, then 15 minutes go by and we whisper to
each other, “hey we really need to just get up.” Within all this, the
program is pretty boring. Yoo is dodging important questions, and
almost sugar coating questions about torture, and indefinite
detention. As Yoo is getting into this torture question, we decide,
okay let’s get up now.
TADA! We walk to the front of the stage, and start agitating about the
Japanese Internment and the justification for that, and we unraveled
our very large banner that read:
NO TO A WORLD OF: TORTURE, DETENTION, AND UNJUST WAR.
It didn’t take long until we were asked to leave or the Parks
Department would be called in. As we were leaving, some people started
clapping while others were saying you made your point but this is not
the right forum for this. Until the very end, we started agitating
about the World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime! movement.
It gets better after we left.
I guess 10 minutes or so go by, and the Delaware Valley Veterans for
America and an Iraq Vet Against the War get up and start agitating and
questioning Yoo. They start talking about their own participation in
this War Machine being in the army, and they get escorted out. In
addition, during the question and answer period, provocative questions
were asked like, “What are the signs to when the war will end?”, which
Yoo didn’t answer.
With even more people and more planning we could have disrupted that
whole program. We didn’t” know what we were doing, but we knew that
Yoo needed to be opposed in the “City of Brotherly.”