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Code Pink activists demonstrate in front of the White House on July 4, 2006.
Code Pink: Women for Peace is an anti-war group that is mainly composed of women. It has regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington DC, and many more U.S. chapters as well as several worldwide. Code Pink describes itself as a "grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect [government] resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities." With members wearing the group's signature pink color, Code Pink has conducted marches, protests, and high-visibility publicity stunts in order to achieve its goals. Although women initiated and lead the group, men are welcome to participate at both the local and national level.


Code Pink originated on October 2, 2002. Soon after its inception, Code Pink launched a 4-month vigil in front of the White House, beginning in November and culminating on March 8, International Women's Day, with a 10,000-person march.

The name "Code Pink" is a play on the United States Department of Homeland Securitymarker'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 Iraq, and subsequently led 5 delegations there. These delegations included a trip with parents who had lost their children in Iraq, and also a trip with parents of active soldiers. Additionally, they brought a group of 6 Iraqi women to the US to tour the country, and published a report about how the US occupation has affected the status of Iraqi women.

On its official website, Code Pink lists allegations of US war-crimes, and claims thousands of civilians were killed in Fallujahmarker in 2004 due to the actions of the US military. Along with other groups, they gave over $600,000 worth of humanitarian aid to refugees of Fallujah in 2004.


Notable activity timeline

  • January 20, 2005: Code Pink protesters infiltrated President G.W. Bush's second inaugural address, unfurling banners and heckling the president during his speech. The group reportedly received VIP passes from unidentified members of Congress, and were eventually escorted out of the area by police.

  • September 21, 2006: Code Pink staged a peace march that blocked traffic on the Golden Gate Bridgemarker. Code Pink received permits allowing them to march after the morning commute hours at 10:00am. Instead, the group began an illegal walk toward the center of the span at 7:30am. They left by 10:00am with no injuries or accidents reported.

  • March 22, 2007: several Code Pink protestors were arrested outside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after announcing their intent to take over her office. Code Pink was protesting that the majority Democratic Party had not stopped war funding.

  • September 10, 2007: Code Pink attended General David Petraeus' Congressional testimony. Petraeus testified that security objectives in Iraq were largely being met and that a long-term effort there was needed. Members of Code Pink protested, interrupting the general's testimony and were subsequently removed. Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) banged his gavel, attempted to restore order, and informed the protesters of possible legal ramifications of their actions.

  • October 24, 2007: Desiree Ali-Fairooz approached Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with red paint on her hands and shouted "The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands!" She was immediately arrested.

  • September 4, 2008: At the 2008 Republican National Convention, a Code Pink activist attempted to confront nominee John McCain onstage while he was giving his acceptance speech. Secret Service stopped the activist before she reached the stage.

  • December 12, 2008: Code Pink announced its plans to invest in Iranian wind energy in hopes "to defy sanctions and build peaceful relations" with the government of Iran.

  • June 3, 2009: Code Pink flew a banner that said "End the siege of Gazamarker" at President Obama's Muslim-outreach speech at Cairo Universitymarker.

Marching in 2004.

Ongoing protest rallies

Code Pink often uses political street theater to publicize its positions. Favored methods include the use of puppets, effigies, oversized heads, and fake blood, according to John J. Tierney in a publication of the conservative think tank, Capital Research Center.

Code Pink organizes annual rallies on Mothers Day and St. Valentine's Day. On Mother's Day 2006, Code Pink organized a 24-hour gathering in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White Housemarker, which was attended and supported by activists such as Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon and Patch Adams. For Valentine's Day they organize kiss-ins in which members are encouraged to assemble outside military recruitment centers and kiss; as well as holding up banners with slogans such as "Make out, not war!" and "Love the troops, Hate the War". Members are also asked to hand out flyers challenging the representations of military recruiters. According to the Code Pink website, "For example, the flyers claim that recruiters tell potential recruits their chance of being sent to a combat zone is slim. In contrast, according to the flyers, almost all recruits will be sent to Iraq or Afghanistanmarker."

Code Pink has also organized protests at Walter Reed Army Medical Centermarker in Washington DC, that it refers to as "vigils." It encourages counter-recruitment in opposition to US military recruitment in schools and at recruitment centers. In late 2007, CodePink began protesting a US Marine Corps recruiting center in Berkeley, Californiamarker. Berkeley City Council had already passed a motion declaring its opposition to military recruitment in 2005 titled Proposition I / College Not Combat. Berkeley resident and CodePink protester Cynthia Papermaster said "We're not against the Marines, but against what they're recruited to do." Counter-protesters held signs, including one that said "stop bashing our boys."


Demonstrations at Walter Reed Medical Center

Code Pink has been criticized for actions at demonstrations at the Walter Reed Medical Centermarker in Washington, DC. The criticism has centered on the use of 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 are not part of their group and that they have asked them to be respectful. Code Pink describes the demonstrations as "vigils not protests" and says their purpose is to highlight the lack of care for veterans. They believe they have helped spur improvements in that care.

Comment by George W. Bush

In a speech on November 1, 2007, President Bush criticized Code Pink, among other antiwar groups, saying "When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground and less time responding to the demands of bloggers and Code Pink protesters."

Stunt during Plame hearing

In March 2007, there were US Senate hearings about the disclosure of the classified role of Valerie Plame Wilson, for which a member of Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements to federal investigators. During the hearings, a Code Pink activist, Midge Potts, constantly maneuvered to be in the camera views of the witness. Potts wore a pink T-shirt emblazoned "Impeach Bush". She said she was in the Judiciary Committee hearing room not to add anything to the proceedings there, but "...I switched it to the impeach during the Valerie Plame hearing mainly because it seems like that the Democrats or -- are going to push the supplemental through." This action was criticized by the Capitol Hill Blue political news website on the grounds that it gave ammunition to Administration political workers to portray any complaints about the President or the occupation of Iraq as being from extremists.

Tucker Carlson interview

Conservative talk-show host Tucker Carlson criticized Pink leader Medea Benjamin for her support of Hugo Chávez. She was quoted as saying that the charge in sections of the US media that Chavez had cracked down on free speech and civil rights in Venezuela was a "myth." In an interview on his MSNBC show, Benjamin was asked, "Do you want to revise that given the news that Hugo Chavez has closed the last nationally broadcast opposition television station for criticizing him?" Benjamin replied that it was not true and that Chavez 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 "Perumarker recently did not renew a license. Uruguaymarker 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 that, "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."


Code Pink also published a book called Stop the Next War Now, which included essays by Eve Ensler, Barbara Lee, Arianna Huffington, Janeane Garofalo, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jody Williams, Naomi Klein, Benazir Bhutto, Helen Thomas, Julia Butterfly Hill, Amy Goodman, Doris Haddock, Cynthia McKinney, Gael Murphy and others.


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