Code Pink activists demonstrate in front of the White House on July 4, 2006.
|Formation||November 17, 2002|
|Purpose||Anti-war, social justice|
|Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin|
Code Pink: Women for Peace (often stylized as CODEPINK) is an internationally active NGO that describes itself as a "grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S.-funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities". In addition to its focus on anti-war issues, it has taken action on issues such as drones, Guantanamo Bay prison, Palestinian statehood, the Iran nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia, and Women Cross DMZ.
The organization characterizes itself as women-initiated. It has regional offices in Los Angeles, California and Washington, D.C., and many more chapters in the U.S. as well as several in other countries.
With members wearing the group's signature pink color, Code Pink has conducted marches, protests, and high-visibility actions in order to promote its goals. Although women initiated and lead the group, Code Pink encourages people of all genders to participate in its activities.
Code Pink was founded on November 17, 2002 by Americans Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin and other activists. The group's name is a play on the United States Department of Homeland Security's color-coded alert system in which, for example, Code Orange and Code Red signify the highest levels of danger.
In February 2003, just weeks before the invasion of Iraq, Code Pink organized its first trip to that nation, and subsequently led five delegations there. These delegations included parents who had lost their children in Iraq, and parents of active soldiers. Additionally, they brought six Iraqi women on a tour of the United States, and published a report about how the U.S. occupation affected the status of Iraqi women.
On its website, Code Pink lists allegations of U.S. war crimes, and states that thousands of civilians were killed in Fallujah in 2004 due to the actions of the U.S. military. Along with other groups, they gave over $600,000 worth of humanitarian aid to refugees of Fallujah in 2004.
Code Pink has also joined in vigils at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The group has been criticized for actions at the vigils: the criticism has centered on tactics such as displaying coffins and chanting aggressive slogans. Speaking about the display of coffins, Kevin Pannell, an amputee and former patient at the hospital, said it "was probably the most distasteful thing I had ever seen. Ever. We went by there one day and I drove by and [the anti-war protesters] had a bunch of flag-draped coffins laid out on the sidewalk. You know that 95 percent of the guys in the hospital bed lost guys whenever they got hurt and survivors' guilt is the worst thing you can deal with." To those that faulted aggressive chants and signs, Code Pink responded that certain of the disruptive protesters were not part of their group and that they have asked these protesters to be respectful. Code Pink says that the purpose of the vigils is to highlight the lack of care for veterans and claims that the vigils have helped spur improvements in that care.
Conservative talk-show host Tucker Carlson criticized Pink leader Medea Benjamin for her support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Benjamin was quoted as saying that the charge in sections of the US media that Chávez had cracked down on free speech and civil rights in Venezuela was a myth.
In an interview on Carlson's MSNBC show, Benjamin was asked, "Do you want to revise that given the news that Hugo Chávez has closed the last nationally broadcast opposition television station for criticizing him?" Benjamin replied that it was not true and that Chávez simply did not renew the license because the station "participated in a coup against a democratically elected government, his [Chavez's] government." Benjamin also said "Peru recently did not renew a license. Uruguay didn't renew a license. Why do you hold Venezuela to a different standard?"
Carlson responded that a 360-page Venezuelan government-published book accused RCTV of showing lack of respect for authorities and institutions. Carlson asked Benjamin, "I would think, as a self-described liberal, you would stand up for the right of people to 'challenge authorities and institutions.' And yet you are apologizing for the squelching of minority views. Why could that be?" Benjamin replied, "They [RCTV] falsified information. They got people out on the street. They falsified footage that showed pro-Chavez supporters killing people, which did not happen. They refuse to cover any of the pro-Chavez demonstrations."
In the summer of 2009, Code Pink began their "Ground the Drones" campaign. This campaign was a response to the Obama administration's continued and increased use of unmanned drones in the "war on terror," specifically in regions surrounding Pakistan and Afghanistan. Code Pink claimed that many of the drone strikes intended to target terrorist leaders and strongholds often miss their targets, causing the unnecessary deaths of innocent civilians.
"Ground the Drones" was fashioned as a form of non-violent, civil disobedience, similar to protests earlier that spring, by groups such as Voices for Creative Non Violence. Code Pink targeted Creech Air Force base in Indian Springs, Nevada, claiming it was the "epicenter" for controlling drone activity. The goal of the protest was "halting unmanned aircraft strikes controlled via satellite links from Creech and other bases." The group continued protesting at Creech AFB through November and December 2009. Code Pink returned to Creech AFB in October 2011, along with other protest groups, to mark the 10th anniversary of the occupation of Afghanistan. Protesters dubbed it the "largest anti-war demonstration ever at Creech Air Force Base.
In August 2013, Code Pink's national coordinator, Alli McCracken, disrupted the annual Aerial Unmanned Vehicles Systems Integrated summit, in Washington, DC. During a speech advocating the full automation of unmanned drones, McCracken interrupted by shouting "Are you going to talk about the innocent people who have been killed by the drones?," while producing a "STOP KILLER DRONES" banner, until she was escorted out by security.
In November 2013, Code Pink organized a "Ground the Drones" summit. The summit took place over two days and was held at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. The summit featured films pertaining to drone warfare, as well as a variety of guest speakers from various human rights and civil liberties organizations. Topics of the summit included ethical and legal arguments surrounding drone warfare, as well as concerns over the use of drones domestically.
"Ground the Drones" has also attempted to involve American citizens in the fight to end drone warfare. Code Pink's website advises readers to take action by, among other ways, contacting their local representatives, organizing film-screenings, and distributing pamphlets.
On October 31, 2009, Code Pink organized a protest rally outside the White House to coincide with President and Mrs. Obama's official Halloween party. As many of the guests were family members of military personnel, the Code Pink press release encouraged attendees to dress as "zombie soldiers". The event gained some notoriety when complaints surfaced about Reuters' characterization of their protest as "taunting" children, a characterization that Reuters stood by.
Code Pink has organized more than seven delegations to Gaza, some of them at the invitation of the United Nations. Critics have since accused Code Pink of working "closely with terrorist organizations and states sponsors of terrorism" in Gaza and Iran. Prior to the Gaza Freedom March, Code Pink endorsed the "Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid", which calls for comprehensive boycott of Israel.
During the Gaza Freedom March, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin coordinated the organization's stay with the Hamas terrorist group. Members resided in the Commodore, a Hamas-owned hotel in Gaza City. Hamas security officials accompanied activists as they visited Palestinian homes and Gaza-based NGOs. Prior to the march, Benjamin said the Hamas government had "pledged to ensure our safety." However, Code Pink leaders claimed Hamas had hijacked the initiative from the onset after imposing prohibitions on the organization's movements around Gaza. Amira Hass referred to the event as "an opportunity for Hamas cabinet ministers to get decent media coverage in the company of Western demonstrators."
Code Pink helped to organize an International Women's Day Delegation to Gaza in March 2014. Upon arrival at the Cairo airport on March 3, 2014, Medea Benjamin was detained and assaulted by Egyptian authorities. She was deported to Turkey after the authorities had dislocated her shoulder. Other members of the international delegation, including American, French, Belgian, and British citizens, who arrived the next day were also deported. Some members made it into Cairo, although no one from the delegation made it to Gaza.
Code Pink protesters were present at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) first press conference following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where NRA's Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre advocated placing armed guards in schools and said "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun."
Code Pink member Desiree Fairooz was arrested for laughing after a description of Senator Jeff Sessions by Alabama U.S. Senator Richard Shelby of the nominee as having a history of his "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented," during the January 2017 confirmation hearing as United States Attorney General. After she had been convicted at trial, that verdict was reversed by the chief District Court Judge Robert Morin. The judge said Fairooz should not have been tried for laughing, only for speaking out as she was being removed, and called a mistrial. Instead of dismissing the case, Morin set her retrial for September. Fairooz faced up to a year in prison and $2,000 in fines for disruptive and disorderly conduct and obstructing and impeding passage on US Capitol grounds. On November 6, 2017, District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu filed a notice of nolle prosequi in the case against Desiree Fairooz. Upon the decision, Code Pink released a statement calling the 3 trials a waste of time and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, adding, "These sentences are designed to discourage dissent and prevent activists from engaging in the daily protests that are taking place during a tumultuous time." From the January 20th protests of the inauguration of Donald Trump, the United States Department of Justice is prosecuting 200 people on multiple felony charges.
In March 2019 while visiting Iran, Code Pink representatives voiced support for Iran's developing missile technology, saying that "since the US has military bases around Iran, it is Iran's right to upgrade its defense capability".
During the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, the US Government broke relations with the Nicolás Maduro administration and recognized Juan Guaidó as the acting president of Venezuela. On 10 April 2019, after the Maduro administration retired his diplomats from the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, US activists from Code Pink received keycards from the diplomats, moved into the building, and secured all entrances with chains and locks as Carlos Vecchio, Guaido's ambassador appointed to the US, tried to gain access to the building. The US government considers the embassy as property of Guaidó's interim government. Clashes in May 2019 between US activists and pro-Guaidó Venezuelan demonstrators resulted in arrests on both sides. US authorities issued an eviction notice on the group on May 14. The last four activists were removed from the embassy by agents from the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and the US Secret Service on May 16.
At the end of July 2019, some members of Code Pink that occupied the embassy visited Venezuela during the Foro de São Paulo. Maduro posed for pictures with the group and rewarded them with gifts, including a book on Simón Bolívar and a replica of Bolivar's sword.