The Drums of Peace Park


1981 | 1991 | Now

President George W. Bush is following in his Dad's footsteps ... building killing coalitions, increasing secrecy, soldiers, and police. He claims a great excuse (terrorism - oops, weapons of mass destruction - oops, democracy), even more terrorizing than his Dad's (oil - oops, freedom). He claims we should kill to save lives - the most lethal sophistry. There's no excuse for wasting any lives. So it's time to bring out the drums once more.

Julius Caesar: "Beware of the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and theblood boils with hate and the mind is closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and do it gladly so. How do I know? I know for this is what I have done. And I am Caesar." - (101-44 BC)

In 1991, when President George H. W. Bush prepared to attack Iraq, people spontaneously flocked to the White House by the dozens to stay in Peace Park and drum against the war. They came about a week before the ground war started on January 15, 1991, and many of them stayed 40 days and nights, until the war ended and police threatened to arrest anyone for even sitting on a blanket.

President Bush The First was perturbed enough by news or cartoons of the drums incessantly beating outside the White House to lie to the media, claiming "those damn drums are keeping me awake all night," then backtracking and claiming his comment had been "hyperbole."

Lawyers discovered an obscure law that applied to pristine wilderness parks prohibiting noise louder than 60 decibels. Little did it matter that the tour buses driving down Pennsylvania Avenue registered 68 decibels from the center of the Lafayette Park, or a person talking normally nearby registered 62 decibels. Armed with decibel meters, police arrested anyone clacking sticks or tapping on prayer drums as soon as the sun went down.

A few years later, one of those prayerful drummers arrested outside the White House, Diana Nomad, won her case in the U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that Lafayette Park didn't compare to Yosemite or Yellowstone National Parks, and that drums were a legitimate form of protest.

So anyone who comes to drum against current killing is legally protected; just cite the Nomad case. But don't have more than three cubic feet of property with you, because the police may start cracking down on people for "possession of property" if enough show up. And if you have a special drum you'd rather not lose, leave it home, and bring plastic buckets and small, harmless sticks instead, by the armload if you wish, so other people can drum their own heartsongs.

Proposition One | Peace Park | NucNews


P.S. A 38-minute videotape of police misconduct during the demonstrations outside the White House, "The Ground War At Home," was broadcast repetitively on public access television in Washington DC and other cities around the U.S. the months after the war in Iraq, and is available upon request by contacting Proposition One Committee.