President Obama’s first major counterterrorism address at the National Defense University on May 23 was interrupted by CodePink co-founder Madea Benjamin, a longstanding social justice activist. CodePink is a women-initiated social justice organization working to end United States-funded wars and to challenge global militarism.
As the President discussed the country’s new strategy to end terrorism, Benjamin called for an end to drone strikes and closure of Guantanamo Bay – highlighting the way these policies affect innocent communities.
As several media outlets labelled Benjamin a “heckler,” it appeared her message carried weight with President Obama. After Benjamin was escorted out by security, he departed from his prepared text, “The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to…[T]hese are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong.”
Effective confrontational activism is nothing new for CodePink. Co-founder Diane Wilson was arrested on the 17th day of a hunger strike for chaining herself to the White House fence, while co-founder Jodie Evans delivered a 300,000-signature petition to the President’s senior advisor to close Guantanamo Bay. In June, the organization is planning a trip to Yemen to meet with families of drone victims.
Read about Madea Benjamin on the CodePink website.
Medea Benjamin: Meet the CodePink Co Founder Who Interrupted Obamas National Security Speech, PolicyMic, 26 May 2013.
Heckled by an Activist, but Getting the Last Word, The New York Times, 23 May 2013.
Code Pink Co-Founder Interrupts Obama Speech, The Wall Street Journal, 23 May 2013.
“That Woman is Worth Paying Attention to,” CodePink: Women for Peace, 24 May 2013.