|Spanish Navy aboard the Rainbow Warrior, in port. |
Eight of us in the San Francisco office decided to protest by engaging in civil disobedience; in addition to this show of solidarity with the ship's crew, we also hoped to gain some attention in the US media to add pressure for the Warrior's release.
We made a huge U-shape out of plywood, painted it in bright rainbow colors, and took it to the Spanish Consulate. We set the rainbow over the courtyard door, and walked through it into the Consulate.
We explained to the staff why we were there: their nation had our ship, and we wanted Spain to release her. And then the eight of us sat down to wait until Spain did so.
When the police arrived, they did their best to persuade us to leave. "Otherwise we're gonna have to arrest you," the nice officer explained. "So why don't you just go? You've made your point." But we hadn't. We needed to be arrested to do that.
My friend Rusty Frank launched into an impromptu and impassioned explanation of the history of civil disobedience, a time-honored way for those with little power to stand up against those who wield it. She talked about the rights of citizens to peacefully protest injustice, and their responsibility to accept the legal consequences of that protest. Rusty started with Henry David Thoreau, referred to Rev. Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, called on Ghandi's protests, and invoked Rosa Parks. The police officer seemed interested in all this, genuinely so. Then he arrested us.
We rode in the back of a paddy wagon to the San Francisco jail, where the four guys went off to the men's unit and Rusty, Genie, Annie and I went to the women's. Fingerprinting, mug shots, all that. We were put in one of the cells, where we were soon joined by a lively, loud exotic dancer called Danielle and her boss, a more staid woman called Indian Summer. Danielle explained that the police had been busting their place of business regularly, and they'd get paid for their time in jail. She was in a chipper mood.
Danielle had recently watched "The Shining." When I said that I didn't intend to see it (too scary!), she proceeded to tell me the entire plot of the movie, in detail. This took quite a while, but we had nothing but time. I remember sitting on the top bunk, leaning against the wall, and Danielle standing with her hands gripping the edge of the mattress, looking up at me, her eyes wide. Redrum, Redrum! I'm still sure that Danielle's dramatic retelling in the San Francisco jail was better than the movie itself.
|Butch looked like this...kinda ...|
We were glad Butch wasn't in our cell. Then came dinner time when we were all herded into a common room for hot dogs and beans. Despite our attempt to keep to ourselves and attract as little attention as possible, Butch sauntered across the room toward us. "She's coming over here! She's coming over here!" whispered Danielle, hunching down in her seat. Butch thumped down next to Annie and drawled, "So...what ya in for?" I sent telepathic messages to Annie: Say arson say robbery, say-- "Trespassing," chirped Annie.
Butch said an expletive. We were too scared to ask what she was in for. Anyway, we'd quickly learned that everyone else we talked to in the cell block was innocent. Apparently only us four Greenpeacers, and Indian Summer and Danielle, were guilty as charged. Butch seemed to like us anyway, and stayed with us until we were herded back to our cells.
It was after midnight when the four of us were released, and met up again with the four guys, in front of the jail.
And the Rainbow Warrior? We never did convince Spain to release her. In a feat of derring-do four months later, the Warrior would slip from port in the middle of the night and outrun the Spanish navy.
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