Jodie Evans: Pink Power To Stop The War
“It took 10 years after we went to war in Iraq to change what people in America think, but I’m so heartened that it’s happened," said Jodie Evans, the co-founder of the women’s activist organization CODEPINK.
"It was people in the United States who told the members of Congress they didn’t want to go to war again. It took 10 years to get there, but I’m happy we got there."
The day before we were scheduled to meet at her office in L.A., she was arrested at the “We Belong Together” rally in Washington D.C. rally. Prior to her arrest, Evans and 100 other women engaged in civil disobedience in front of Congress to demand fair immigration reform.
Be it demonstrations, campaigns or boycotts, Evans has consistently traveled during her 42 years as an activist, enduring slander and criticism on a regular basis. Vitriol from the website Radio Patriot once labeled her as “an agent of influence for the anti-American governments of Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela, as well as Middle Eastern terrorists.”
But she carries on undeterred.
“My work is always out of love; I’m a human rights activist, so it’s showing up with people being abused and violated,” Evans told me, “I believe we are all connected. What happened to another happens to us.”
Evans’s activism began in 1970, when she worked as a maid at one of the big hotels in Las Vegas and organized a march to demand a fair living wage.
Jane Fonda came and marched with the workers, and they won a living wage - a lasting legacy that is still upheld in Las Vegas.
After the process, Evans decided to keep fighting for causes she felt passionately about, becoming an activist for feminist and anti-government causes.
“I have the power to stand up for my rights," said Evans. "I’ve made so many extreme changes through my activism that I know it’s possible."
Evans was once a Democrat, and she ran Gov. Jerry Brown’s presidential campaign in 1992 with the goal of taking the money out of politics. But due in part to problematic campaign finances, she left the Democratic Party, and became an active Nader supporter and a Green Party member.
“Until we fix the money in politics, having anything else pass becomes a compromise that never gonna delivers where it’s needed,” Evans explained.
Evans co-founded CODEPINK with Medea Benjamin in an attempt to stop the Iraq war.
In May 2002, thirty-five female activists—including Evans—teamed up and called themselves “the Unreasonable Women for the Earth.” By September, Bush was trying to frighten them with Code Orange and Code Red and Code Yellow, so they called themselves CODEPINK for “peace, justice, understanding and patience.”
Since then, women from across the country and the world have joined with them. So far, CODEPINK has about 100 local chapters and about 300,000 people on their email lists.
In order to oppose intervention in Syria, CODEPINK has held at least two weeks of actions in Congress and six rallies in different cities. The National Journal praises its endeavor with a piece titled “One Winner in the Syria Debate: Code Pink”. But Jodie said it was the people in the United States who won.
“I know someone in the Congress office; they got calls—98 percent against this war”, Evans told me, “I think not only the American people, but also the world won the campaign, because people of America spoke out.”
Rather than accepting her initial victory, Evans has continued speaking out. In criticized the President’s “shameful” Tuesday night speech.
“He misrepresented a lot of the American people. You know he does everything to make himself look good, but it’s not useful to the American people,” Evans said. “You know, it makes me sad that it needed to be Russia that took us to diplomacy table… it was really disgusting”.
Evans also considers Obama to be “dishonest,” as she thinks he purposefully ignores the will of the people and of Congress, trying instead to "manipulate" the public to promote his own pro-war agenda.
SEE ALSO: CODEPINK: WOMEN FOR PEACE
According to Evans, CODEPINK is going to put out an alert for the next step, asking some men in power to join with other members in the UN Security Council to bring all the factions in Syria to the table.
“The more we can move to diplomacy—and that diplomacy can be valued instead of war—the more we can serve to stabilize the Middle East,” she said.
“The same pattern [as the Iraq war] is showing up,” Evans said, “It’s like we don't understand as American people how much and how down our country is as far as foreign policy, how manipulated we are, and how much our foreign policy is pushed by others.”
She warned the government not to fall into Al Qaeda's trap of continually finding ways to attack the U.S.
“Once the U.S. attacks back, it’ll continue to undermine itself financially. The key was that through the war, we deplete our resources and undermine the stability of our own country,” Evans said.
Evans and her CODEPINK members are now talking about taking a peace mission to Syria to negotiate people. She has been to many war zones before, including Iran, Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Yemen.
SEE ALSO: Code Pink Disrupts Syria Hearing
“We went to these places to get the story from the women, so that we could come back and tell Obama whether the women really wanted us to rescue them or not," said Evans. "I brought back their signatures that said they did not want it."
Their next protest aims to involve the United Nations Security Council calling for diplomacy.
“My job is to educate, inspire and activate, and sometimes it takes a while to educate people out of the status quo thinking or the consensus belief into what’s really happening,” Evans said. “So I work all levels, I make documentary films, I try to find talking place, I try to find ways for people to leave from one understanding to another, because it’s hard to decide you to believe in one thing, to shift belief, because it totally changes who we are.”