First inspired by Medea Benjamin (see feature, page 9) and anti-war protests, a loose-knit group of feisty and mostly middle-aged women have emerged as perhaps the most prolific group of activists in town. (On Tuesday, Benjamin will speak at PSU.)
Code Pink is a national organization that began in opposition to the war in Iraq, but has since proliferated to all matters anti-Bush and anti-conservative. Their name, somewhat cheekily, refers to the Bush Administration's color-coded security alerts (code pink is the signal nurses use when a baby is abducted). Already there are dozens of chapters from Boston to Los Angeles. Many participants are veterans from earlier eras of anti-war protests.
In less than a year, the local Code Pink women have put more than 30 political actions under their collective belt. Known for staging cheeky "self-actions," local Code Pink ladies have turned themselves into love boat floats to demonstrate against the war ships that dock in Portland during the Rose Festival. ("What does the Rose Festival have to do with war?" explained one woman. "Roses and spring and lovely ladies in prom dresses aren't related to killing people overseas.") They have also dressed prim and proper--as Republicans, they explain--to infiltrate GOP conferences. And they're known for taking off their slips--always pink--and handing them to political leaders they want fired.
"Our actions are received more positively than some other types of protests," says Teresa Mitchell, a Portland Code Pink associate who works as a news commentator on KBOO radio by day. "People are quite pleased see us. In the cultural context there's something inherently funny about a group of middle-aged women dressed in pink protesting."
The Code Pink women have something up their sleeve for next week's visit by Bush, but they won't say what. "If we do something that needs a surprise element, we don't want to give it away," says Sylvia Hart-Landsberg, an anthropologist by day. "We'll try to find a tactic that falls in line with our usual successes--creative and humorous," adds another member.
For more information about Code Pink, call 246-7136.