Patricia Foulkrod, an acclaimed director and producer based in Los
Angeles, describes her experience last night attempting a citzens’
arrest of former Bush chief of staff Karl Rove at Loyola Marymount
University. Her most recent documentary, “The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends,”
follows Iraq soldiers from recruitment to basic training, from
battlefield orders to postwar support for wounds, both physical and
Friends of mine in CODEPINK
LA emailed me that Karl Rove would be speaking at Los Angeles’ Loyola
Marymount University as part of the school’s annual First Amendment
Week. I then learned Rove would reportedly receive $30,000 by LMU for
this 6 p.m Happy Hour. How many community college students could
study the U.S. Constitution and the workings of Rove with his fee? A
question perhaps for future SAT tests.
I got another CODEPINK email, casually asking if I would be
willing to attend, and at some point, handcuff him. I knew they were
not joking; CODEPINK in San Francisco had tried last fall
to handcuff Rove when he spoke at a conference there, surprising him
and the press for a much more interesting day. Still, I looked at
their video clip and decided I’d fake the flu — I am a claustrophobic
filmmaker. I like filming that does not involve jail, and going home
after to feed my dog Bella before she eats the rest of the couch.
Jodie Evans, CODEPINK co-founder, tried to seduce me with one word —
elegant – she could count on me to dress up and handcuff Rove with
style and elegance. Still, I emailed back and wrote that I was
not a Republican-handcuffing kind of girl.
Then one of the Iraq veterans featured in my documentary, “The
Ground Truth,” gave me a call. His Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is
recklessly ROVING across his brain, he said, his heart, his marriage.
He can’t work, hardly leaves the house, and has an appointment with
Veteran’s Affairs sometime in the vague future. He voted for Obama but
the hope and change jingle did not get past his intrusive thoughts.
I hung up and remembered beneath my irrational fear of very tight
spaces is an even greater fear of Karl Rove being in the same room with
the First Amendment. I put on my long black velvet coat, my red high
heels, and picked up a ten dollar pair of silver handcuffs CODEPINK
left for me – just in case.
The first thing I heard outside Loyola’s lecture hall were wonderful
very loud protesting voices – the Obama victory has not seduced these
students into forgiveness. ” Bush’s Brain …Down the Drain.” Dozens of
them were chanting and marching alongside a handful of adults, perhaps
faculty members playing hookey. I convinced a very nice LMU public
relations person I was with a progressive online news show. Oh well.
She had seats left in the section next to a local reporter who agreed
to take a photo of whatever I did.
As part of Loyola’s First Amendment Week tradition, Rove was given
five questions. First question: did he think the First Amendment was
too far reaching and too broad? “No,” he replied, and went on for ten
minutes to explain to us surfer heads why it had been so important for
the White House to give no access, no leaks and no transparency for
eight long years on anything except George W. Bush’s swallowing the
pretzel. Rove explained how “grave” were possible breaches of trust by
explaining how many Congress members came into Rove’s office
complaining about Bush and his policies, and then walked into Bush’s
office and sucked up to him. He said we would not want some wayward
comment or criticism by a member of Congress to end up on the front
page of The New York Times. “It would prevent people from telling the
truth.” I was surrounded by nodding Republicans quietly discussing
their hope that Michael Lewis could do for them what Emanuel did for
Obama — “he cast Republican looking Democrats to run for office.” A
fun-house feeling tingled underneath my velvet. The students in the
back were not buying it.
The crowd asked question after question about Rove’s subpoenas from
Congress. Two political science students quoted his testimony before
Congress, chapter and verse. I wanted to write their parents a thank
I finally got my turn and stood up several feet away from the
podium. “You have talked about the fact that the people behind the
scenes, the invisible ones, are actually more powerful and more
dangerous in the liberal press – you specifically said producers and
editors. Are you not describing yourself. You have been the man
behind the curtain for eight years and everything Bush did is tied to
you. But I am here to bring you a present…” (I raised my arms, and all
the security people around him moved a few steps towards me.)
“I have interviewed over a 100 soldiers from the Iraq and
Afghanistan Wars – including many Republicans - and out of that 100
only maybe two have said that they felt the Iraq War has been a just
and noble cause and a war worth fighting for…many are sick and wounded
and they would like you to have these…” (I held up my handcuffs high),
“AND THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU LOCKED UP IN THEM!”
The capacity filled room of 700 people exploded with mostly loud
cheers and applause. Rove stopped and stared at me and came back with,
“That has not been my experience,” but because of the cheering, he had
to wait before speaking.
He said he knew he was suppose to take another question but instead
wanted to tell two stories, realizing the questions could get worse.
He spoke of a family who has lost a son another one in Iraq, and the
father who is a doctor has now also enlisted in honor of his son. (I
know this PR story as it has been reported more than once). Rove went
on to tell the story of a very disfigured soldier who keeps a plaque on
his door – which Rove insisted reads, “Do not feel sorry for me, I did
what I did for the people I love and my country.”
By the end of the night, Rove was $30,000 richer, and both wars live
on, with the Afghanistan occupation about to grow more deadly. We need
to ensure First Amendment gets a new agent — and flashy handcuffs.
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