Nov 17

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 26

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 26th week of our vigil against torture on November 7th, 2010.


Becoming more and more of a high-profile criminal every day, veteran Elton Davis made a rare public appearance this week and signed autographs for those interested. His latest dastardly crime can be read about here.


Veteran Bob Meddaugh also joined us this week, donning his best orange attire to represent another detainee held indefinitely by the United States.


The hot button sign this week was the one Wesley is holding, prompting two people to get out of their cars and argue with us about Jesus being misrepresented. Of course, the Christians aren’t the only ones upset – there’s also the people who just think “Jesus sucks”, as one driver said.


This fellow came up to repeatedly ask the same question over and over again to Wesley: “How are you torturing Jesus today?” After getting Wes to admit he’s a sinner, he then adamantly suggested that we add a sign that says “Jesus loves the torturer”. Wes agreed with him on his proposed sign’s message, but we found it odd, considering if we were holding signs that said “Stop rape” almost no one would suggest we hold a sign that says, “Jesus loves rapists” right beside the others.


The median walking didn’t last long before the cop shot us down.


Fun while it lasted though!

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Nov 16

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 25

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 25th week of our vigil against torture on October 31st, 2010.


Embrace the warmth of the government’s arms. Everyone that we tell you is a terrorist is most definitely a terrorist. Don’t ask questions. You don’t have to trust us, but you do have to give us your money.


This guy came over to talk and the conversation was pretty good. We discussed the case of Canadian Omar Khadr, the detainee who was fifteen when he was captured, and who should have been protected as a child soldier. Unfortunately, after about eight years in Guantánamo, he has now accepted a plea deal which will probably mean eight more years in a different prison.


When we weren’t receiving homosexual slurs by the boatload, Matt had some time to have a seemingly productive conversation with a visitor.

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Nov 15

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 24

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 24th week of our vigil against torture on October 24th, 2010.


A newly reformed Jack Bauer hawks cigarettes while dual mall security vans hover like vultures in the distance. The Adbusters corporate America flag waves overhead.


Kate joined the group this week, along with six other people who all stopped to give us encouragement. Two girls stood with us and held a sign which a driver quickly hurled a soda at. The soda splattered all over the sign and my camera, but didn’t do much damage. Kirk attempted to maintain a constant expression of badassery throughout the entire event. Did he succeed? You decide.

Citing a shortage of people to write parking tickets for, mall security closely monitored us as usual. One of them patriotically saluted us with the middle finger. The police soon arrived. We had a variation on the usual exchange:

Cop: “Turn the horn off or you’re going to jail.”
Me: “Well, I’m going to keep using it because it’s legal.”
Cop: “It’s not legal. Turn the horn off or you’re going to jail.”
Me: “I’m sorry but it is legal.”
Cop: “Do it again and you’re going to go to jail.”
Me: “Oh, awesome!”

After this, the person detained in the back seat of the cop’s car began laughing and I continued to use the megaphone in the cop’s presence. An hour and a half later and no arrests had been made. You’d think that after 24 weeks of vigils, and threat after repeated false threat of arrest, they’d just stop. But you’ve got to admire their persistence.

After this, a man hung himself out the window, waving his middle finger wildly, yelling all sorts of profanities and gay slurs. We were told to “get the fuck out of the country” and much more. A small taint on a day otherwise filled with people laughing at the satirical speeches made on the megaphone and mostly positive responses.

This girl holding the sign stopped by our vigil against torture for the first time – we didn’t know her, but she was interested in our cause. Soon after picking up a a sign, a driver hurled a drink at her, hitting the sign and my camera. Kirk performed a brief interview with her afterward, recorded on video.

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Nov 14

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 23

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 23rd week of our vigil against torture, on October 10th, 2010.


Kirk’s new video camera came in handy for capturing extended footage of some angry folks who left their cars to spew venom at us.


Matt and Kirk handled talking to three people who pulled over, got out of their cars, and came out to talk to us.


Palina and Mini P came out to the vigil today to help spread the word about torture.


Police were unconcerned with our megaphone use this week, though Valley West Mall and Target security seemed unhappy.


Some drivers think the flag is sacred, but people – victims of torture – are not.


This is a public service announcement from the United States Government’s Department of Fear: everyone that we tell you is a terrorist is most definitely a terrorist. Even though we’ve only had four convictions out of the hundreds of people we’ve kept at Guantánamo Bay for eight years and hundreds have been declared innocent, we assure those are all just mistakes. Everyone that is in there now is a terrorist, and we are keeping them there to keep you safe, because the terrorists hate your freedom. The terrorists hate your security. So stay afraid, stay separate, keep shopping. Thank you! This has been a public service message from the United States Government. We are here to protect you!”


Running in the street and causing traffic accidents, just as the cops suspected.


How I spent my birthday.


This guy got out of his car to call us all “worthless sacks of shit” and insist that we hadn’t “earned the right” to protest. Kirk responded by telling this guy that “nobody’s blood bought me the right to stand here.”


Not our biggest fan. This guy says he wishes the US would execute more people from Guantánamo, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of them have been proven innocent.


The police arrive again, this time to inform us that we can do what we’re doing. Thanks for letting us know that we can do legal things, guys. (This guy was nice, but I found it amusing that he, like many of the cops who visit us, found it necessary to state the obvious.)


Penguins against torture.


Penguins against torture. This guy stands by the book, “Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak”, edited by Mark Falkoff, which we sometimes read from.

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Nov 13

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 22

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 22nd week of our vigil against torture on September 5th, 2010.


“Get the fuck out of America!” a driver yells. You know torture is illegal, right? If you don’t like it, move to Canada.

Robotic drivers.
Driver: “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?”
Wesley: “Excuse me?”
Driver: “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?”
Wesley: “Now why would I want to do that?”

Driver: “What are you doing?”
Wesley: “Protesting torture.”
Driver: “Yeah, you can thank the troops for your right to do that.”
Wesley: “Nope, that’s not what we’re fighting for. You do know that right?”
Driver: “You can thank the troops for that!”


“You cock sucking, fucking asshole!” “I’m going to ship your ass back to Cuba!” Just another pleasant Sunday afternoon with my beautiful girlfriend.

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Nov 12

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 21

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 21st week of our vigil against torture on August 22nd, 2010.


Aside from some kids had fun blowing an air horn at us, things were a bit dull this week. “Get a job” and “get a life” are still prominent remarks – I don’t know where the creative racism went.


Wes took to the median with his sign this week. The back side – “Body Count to an American World” – details the number of civilian deaths by year. This sign was previously used for a vigil during the anniversary of the Iraq War.


One passer asked where we were when Bush was president, as if we were Republicans attempting to make Obama look bad. Odd.


“If we move ‘em out, we’re moving ‘em right next to you,” one guy said. Sounds good to me.

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Nov 11

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 20

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 20th week of our vigil against torture on August 18th, 2010.


The vigil against torture resumes on the corner of University and 50th in West Des Moines.


This sign has at last been updated. This week’s outstanding response: “Death to the infidels!”

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Nov 10

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 19

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 19th week of our vigil against torture on June 28th, 2010.


Our first child protestor – Sam Gulker. Kirk pulled the old Army counter-recruitment sign out for this one.


Accusations of being members of al-Qaeda flew at us this week. Must be Elton’s beard.


Mike Gulker explains torture to his young son, Sam.


Mike explains a sign we made for the Iraq War anniversary – “Body Count to an American World” – which shows the civilian death count by year.

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Nov 9

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 18

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from the 18th week of our vigil against torture in West Des Moines.


Our group ‘reclaims’ the corner of University & 50th for the weekly vigil, thankfully without inference by police this time.


The flag Wesley is holding was laid on the ground as we unpacked the car. This led to a couple of former soldiers pulling up beside us and attempting to inform us (before I finished the sentence for them) that the only reason we could protest was because there were soldiers locking up terrorists in Guantánamo. Of course, I told them I didn’t believe that was true. They told us that they were quite upset that the Adbusters flag was touching the ground. Kirk noted that it was ironic that a piece of fabric was sacred, but human beings were not. Although the man said he agreed with us on the issue of torture, the couple responded with many a “fuck you” and eventually left. It is continually strange to me how many people become enraged by our flag occasionally touching the ground.


Pointing to the detainee on the cross, Kirk asks, “Where, oh where is liberty? This is not security. Where, oh where is liberty, setting captives free? I don’t need a sacrifice. I don’t need a martyr. I don’t need the federal government to create enemies for itself so that it can sleep at night. Where, oh where is liberty? This is not security.”


The major focal point of our vigil continues to be revealing Christ in the suffering of torture victims and survivors.


Remarks like “Get a job” (although cliché) and “Why don’t you guys watch a baseball game?” continue to unwittingly point to the very prevalent attitude of, “Just pretend everything is okay.” After all, why spend your weekend babbling on about people being tortured when you could be out having yourself a good time with friends?


“We have no money for teachers in Iowa, but we have money to create enemies abroad. Enemies of the rich. We have no money for the arts in Iowa, but we have money to torture innocent people abroad, for the rich. We have no money for health care in Iowa, but we have money to create enemies abroad. Enemies of the rich.”


“We are standing ground with a shovel; with a fist full of tomorrow’s promises. It seems like the right thing to do – and maybe I would if I could: tunnel into Guantánamo, tunnel into Bagram, and set captives free.” The week ended with overwhelmingly positive responses, mixed with a handful of the usual nonsense.

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Nov 8

Anti-Torture Vigil: Week 17

Posted by Justin Norman in Anti-Torture Work, Photography.

Photos and info from week 17 of our vigil against torture in West Des Moines on June 13, 2010.


This week, we’re back in Des Moines, though we’ve said goodbye to Valley West Mall. We’re now at the corner of University & 50th Street.


Two Christ Community Church interns, a professor from Drake University, and a Catholic Worker joined us.


Traffic backed up from the interstate provides a great audience for our moonbat mouths. We told stories today about Dilawar and Ahmed Errachidi. Someone who drove by told us we were only able to use the megaphone because Guantánamo exists. Ah yes…I’d forgotten that using a megaphone requires the torture of innocent people. Freedom isn’t free…


Our thanks go out to Sally Frank, a lawyer and professor from Drake who came over and handled the cops for us this week.


We thankfully did not have to speak with the police this week, as Sally handled it for us. Again, the police made it clear that they do not properly understand the West Des Moines noise ordinance.


The rain soon turned into oppressive heat, reminding us of Iowa’s bi-polar weather.

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