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Protesting for Peace With a Vivid Hue and Cry

Toby Blome of El Cerrito, Calif., is in Washington to protest with others from the 250 chapters of Code Pink.
Toby Blome of El Cerrito, Calif., is in Washington to protest with others from the 250 chapters of Code Pink. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

Wright and Wilson gather their things to catch up with the rest of the Code Pink group, which has already left the cafeteria to head to a hearing. They joke and giggle. Wright tells Wilson her real name is "trouble" and Wilson replies that no, Wright's real name is "trouble." Wright stops in a hallway to take off her orange jumpsuit, which she says is difficult to walk in, revealing a tank top that says IMPEACH BUSH & CHENEY. One must make a lot of wardrobe changes in this line of work, she says. Wilson giggles.

"Diane -- she's done some of the most outrageous things in the world," Wright says. "Hey, Diane, tell her about chaining yourself to the tower."

Wilson tells about that, and then she mentions her nine hunger strikes. " I can do a hunger strike," she says.

Eventually, they meet up with the rest of the crew, which has left a hearing on homeland security and moved on to a hearing on veterans affairs.

Later this day and the next, the women of Code Pink will hug Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a liberal Democrat from Hawaii ("He's wonderful," Benjamin says) and commiserate about the war with Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., a Democrat from Missouri ("Keep giving 'em hell in those hearings!" Benjamin tells him). They will wander into John McCain's office and serenade an uninterested staffer with an antiwar song, and attempt to talk to a leading House Republican, Adam Putnam of Florida, about options other than "cut and run" and "stay the course."

"He seemed to be listening," one of the women says hopefully.

Outside, they will playfully suggest to a passing woman that she join their activities in the Dirksen Building. (She does not.) Inside, they will be trailed through the hall of a congressional office building by a pack of police officers and will manage to fake out most of them by climbing some stairs and then coming back down again.

They will stake out senators who are taking the Capitol subway to the floor to vote. There's a minute or two between the arrivals of subway cars, when the senators find themselves trapped on the platform with the women of Code Pink. Autumnrain is there, telling the legislators to end the war, and getting patted on the shoulder by a senator. Benjamin is there, asking senator after senator to vote yes on an amendment to end funding for the war within a year. (The amendment will later fail.)

Some of the senators are friendly. Some seem relieved when they can escape onto the subway cars.

"Bring the troops home!" Autumnrain calls out.

The subway cars rumble off.


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