CODEPINK holds activist training ahead of several RNC demonstrations

08/27/12 Josh Holton
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CODEPINK, the women’s peace group, is in Tampa this week -taking part in protester against the Republican convention.

About a dozen women singing protest tunes only blocks away from the Republican Convention in downtown Tampa Sunday.

The organization’s founder Medea Benjamin has been working to keep budding protesters on their toes.

”We actually started two days ago, we protested and we’ve been making a lot of our props and now we’re here teaching people chants, trying out some of the different props that we have, talking about the issues, and giving people a chance to practice talking to the media.”

Anne Chastain started the website, and said that she chose to work with CODEPINK instead of Occupy Tampa, with whom she also identifies.

“I went with the vaginas of CODEPINK. I thought it was appropriate, I really identify with vaginas and wanted to be here today. They offer great training which I’m really enjoying and networking opportunities so it’s going well.”

Using an assortment of glitter, pink fabrics, and carefully placed neck holes, Benjamin led the women in fashioning costumes in the shapes of vaginas.

“We had a great time making our vaginas I must say. We mostly focus on the issues of war but when we saw that this issue was just imploding and as a woman focused and women initiated peace group we obliged that we have to talk about this one. So we got creative and we had a good time.”

Back in June Michigan representative Lisa Brown was temporarily banned from speaking in State House for using the word “Vagina” in debate over a bill that would restrict abortions. Wade Fulmer is a Veteran’s for Peace member, and also a Code Pink member. He held up a sign that said Vagina, if you can’t say it, don’t legislate it.

“Well we have some legislators who can’t even say the word. It shows a little bit with their words as to how prejudice they are against women. Well there should be that equality that we’re working for, equality for women in the workplace and out on the street and activism so women for peace and women for equal rights.”

Edwina Vogan was holding the same sign with Fulmer, and says that more men need to stand side by side with women when it comes to protecting their rights.

“Women need to have a choice and the republican agenda doesn’t include women and choices and so that’s why I’m here. Any men that are out there who want to support women’s right for equality we welcome it. In fact, we’re trying to do this with everybody. It’s not just about women it’s about equality for everybody. Men know that women are interested in their health too and in there choices. We need to work on this together.”

One of the most prominent protest movements in recent months has been the worldwide Occupy movement, which Medea Benjamin said shares many of the same values with CODEPINK.

“We agree with the whole occupy movement. It’s the whole 1% that’s running this country and the benefits that the 1% whether that’s the 1% that profit from war while the rest of us are seeing billions of dollars that we need here at home go for continuous wars overseas or it’s the 1% that really like the system of money and politics cause they can buy our political system. I would say turning around the corporate control of our government is the number one issue.”

Monday night at New World Brewery in Tampa CODEPINK perfomed the song, “Take your Vagina’s to the RNC.” They danced in their Vagina costumes all night through Ybor City.

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