In Washington DC, clad in orange jumpsuits and “Shut Down Guantánamo” t-shirts, our friends from Witness Against Torture took over the Hart Senate Building with a message for Senators, staffers, and the general public: “Shut Down Guantánamo,” “No Torture Cabinet” and “Hate Doesn’t Make U.S. Great.” These statements were painted on a banner that activists dropped from a balcony as 9 members of the group dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods held a die-in, mourning those Muslim men who died at Guantanamo without ever being charged with a crime. The nine, and four others, were arrested by Capitol Police, as supporters sang “O America, don’t believe their lies. Their politics of hate will destroy our children’s lives.” The balconies were crowded with onlookers as the action unfolded. One of the two who unfurled the “No Torture Cabinet” banner was also taken into custody.
San Francisco World Can’t Wait and other activists complimented DC action with a vigil and procession from the Phillip Burton Federal Building, home to the local Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office. The venue was chosen to protest Donald Trump’s selection of DHS chief John Kelly, former commander of the infamous torture prison. Kelly’s confirmation the previous day demonstrates willful collaboration of Congress to institutionalize the surveillance state and war machine of the Obama administration.
In New York City, on Jan. 13th, we had a wonderfully informative session with British journalist and world-renowned Guantanamo expert Andy Worthington whose US tours for Guantanamo anniversaries have been sponsored for years by World Can’t Wait. Andy was joined at the discussion, held at Revolution Books, by the forthright attorney for Guantanamo prisoners and CUNY law professor, Ramzi Kassem.