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David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

October 8th, 2011 7:48 PM

Pepper-Sprayed for Peace

I've been coughing and vomiting, and my head aches from pepper spray. Video from what happened is below.
 
We intended to hold signs and sing inside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, protesting its promotion of unmanned drones, missiles, and bombs, including its sponsorship by and promotion of weapons corporations.  We don't have any museums promoting health coverage or education or retirement security.
 
We had marched from the Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations, taking over the streets of DC.  The museum knew we were coming.  Some of our group got in and dropped a banner.  Hundreds of us did not.  Instead, we were greeted at the door with cans of pepper spray.
 
There were three sets of entrance doors.  I was among the first to open the third set of doors.  A guard shook a can of pepper spray in front of me and demanded that we back out.  But a dozen feet away at the second set of doors, people were staggering out and collapsing in pain, having been pepper sprayed in the face.  I started to go toward them, but began coughing and vomiting.  A lot of people were effected, directly or -- like me -- indirectly by the pepper spray.
 
It is not true that we assaulted the police.  Nobody was accused of or charged with that.  I didn't hear about it until later from the media.  A young woman named Thi Le was told she'd be charged with assaulting a police officer after she was pepper sprayed and handcuffed, but they switched the charge to disorderly conduct and released her a few hours later.
 
It is not true that they only pepper sprayed one person.  Many people were pepper sprayed.
 
It is not true that the crowd dispersed.  The guards locked the doors and closed the museum.  We had not planned to close the museum but to demonstrate and leave.  With the museum closed and one of our own in custody, we held a rally on the steps as more people made their way over from Freedom Plaza to join us.  We were there for hours.
 
We will be here for as long as it takes.
 
Congress comes back to this town on Tuesday.
 
We're ready.
 
We're nonviolent.
 
We're not scared.
 
We're not discouraged.
 
We're not fooled.
 
We've got demands as clear as a blue sky:
 
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy K Street
Occupy Everything
And Never Give it Back!

 

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