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Monday, December 02, 2002
Bushtapo Arrest Grandmothers For Free Speech at Grocery Store
You Must Not Mention Frankenfoods Comrade Grandmothers !
HEALTH IS (the ONLY true) WEALTH!
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter." --Martin Luther King, Jr. . ******************** Summary:
On Saturday, October 26th, by getting arrested at Kroger's for
passing out fact sheets on Genetically Engineered food and inviting
people to sign petitions requesting mandatory labeling of food with
GM ingredients, I became the unwitting participant in an event that
MIGHT, if enough people get behind it, have repercussion that could:
1. Educate the masses to the potential dangers in unknowingly
consuming genetically engineered food that is in 60% of the food they buy
at their favorite grocer's.
2. Effect the removal of genetically engineered foods in major store-
3. Initiate a nation-wide voters' referendum re: mandating labeling
of ALL Genetically Engineered Foods.
I hope you will read the following, and if you think it prudent, pass it
on to whomever might benefit from it. My hope is enough will embrace this
opportunity to unite the MIGHT of people throughout the world to change
things for the better.
If enough of us let our politicians and corporations know we will
patronize ONLY those stores who listen to consumers' demand for
genetically-free-store brands, plus labeling of ALL others that
contain GMOs, we WILL EFFECT CHANGE.
Following is the Press version of what happened, along with comments from
others and my responses.
Gerry Coffey, Wife/Mother/Grandmother/Health
Relations Officer THE VEGETARIAN UNION OF NORTH AMERICA and THE
INTERNATIONAL VEGETARIAN UNION
HEALTH IS (the ONLY true) WEALTH!
Subj: Re: radio interview
Date: 12/1/2002 10:51:19 PM Central Standard Time
Dear Dr. Ross:
You must be a mind reader. The other day on National Public Radio I
heard a segment about a Law Professor's students who had taken on
real life criminal cases and got innocent people freed.
Yesterday, after the radio interview, I mentioned using this
potential resource to our lawyer, and suddenly you respond.
I greatly appreciate your interest and offer to assist us in this
matter that affects us all. In fact, what could be of more basic
concern than the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we
eat? And when Big Business decides to tamper with the foods we take
to nourish ourselves, I feel this is of grave concern to us all. I
further feel the only reason the whole world isn't up in arms is
because they have been kept ignorant to the potential dangers
inherent in tampering with our food supply.
Never mind the possibility of Iraq concealing chemical warfare
weapons, our real enemy is inside our borders masquerading as the
"guys in the white hats."
When I initially became involved in the National Supermarket Campaign
Against Genetically Engineered Foods, making a public spectacle of myself
was the farthest thing from my mind. However, when faced with the decision
to give up and go home and just say "I tried....," or be arrested, I
thought about all the mothers and concerned others across the nation
taking part in the Supermarket Campaign. I didn't want Alabama, often
considered to be at the bottom of the totem pole in so many ways, to be
the one State not represented. Little did I know we would be the only ones
who attempted to stand up for our rights and be arrested for it.
Numerous things flashed through my mind when faced with the prospect of
* Would my record be tarnished for life? (As a former print and
broadcast journalist, I used to report on people who broke the law,
and now I was one of them.)
* Would I bring shame on my family and friends? ( Two of our
offspring are in the military. How might my actions affect them?)
I tried to recall someone else who had taken part in causes and been
arrested. Martin Sheen came to mind. Being arrested numerous times for
campaigning for causes he thought just have not seemed to hinder his
success. He is perhaps more revered as the U.S. President he portrays on
NBC's top-rated "West Wing" than the real one who resides in the White
House. (And certainly his compensation is more!)
I realized my own circumstances could hardly be compared to that of
such a public figure, but no other example came to mind. Taking
inspiration from Martin Sheen's example, I told the policemen I would not
leave voluntarily so was ordered to get in the back of the police car.
Meanwhile, the others who had been assisting handing out literature
suddenly remembered they had other commitments, but my good friend, Jean
Tune, said she would support me in whatever I chose to do, but kept asking
me if I was sure I wanted to do it.
The severity of the situation hit home when I heard the burly police
officer yell into his car radio: "I'M BRINGING IN TWO CAUCASIAN FEMALES,
AND GET THIS, ONE OF THEM WAS BORN IN 1923."
Jean was horrified when she heard that, and said: "Gerry, we can
still change our minds!" The police officer overheard her and yelled:
"IT'S TOO LATE TO DO THAT! YOU TWO ARE UNDER ARREST AND YOU'LL PROBABLY
HAVE TO PAY A $500 BAIL OR REMAIN IN JAIL UNTIL YOUR COURT DATE."
Jean gasped audibly. The widow of a prominent surgeon who hocked all of
her land and took out a loan in order to start a Community Supported
Agricultural program, she said she didn't even have that much money in the
bank. And I certainly had no personal income of my own. I wondered how my
spouse, a conservative, straight-laced West Point Alumni versed in Duty,
Honor, Country, would react to his wife being arrested.
The dye was cast however..., and the entire episode of the arrest and
experience at the Police Station would make a good story line for West
Wing (or the former "Barney Miller.")
Thankfully a young lawyer has volunteered to help us pro bono, so
perhaps we will have a chance to bring the attention to this matter
that it deserves. I feel certain if we can alert the public to the
fact they have a critical stake in this effort, they will unite
I confess I am not well versed where the law is concerned but some
basic rights would seem to be inviolate, particularly here in the
United States. That we are kept ignorant to the fact certain types of
bacteria, fish genes, human viruses and other man-made organisms are
injected into our food without our knowledge or consent, solely to
increase the shelf life of an item, is reprehensible. Moreover, we have
unwittingly become a participant and even end up paying for that crime
against our physical integrity.
Since my arrest I have been made aware the Kroger Grocery store is
private property and we were trespassing. It is unclear to me how
they can have it both ways: ie., have something open to the public
for the purpose of taking public moneys, yet declaring it to be
private as their will determines?
I also fully realize the Press has taken this up not because of the
seriousness of the subject but because of the novelty/comedic aspect of
two grandmothers aspiring to change the way things are being done.
As the saying goes: "Call me anything but late for chow." If it takes the
term "grandmothers" to get people's attention, so be it. If we can
mobilize the grandmothers of the Nation and world to take up this cause,
surely we can make changes for the good of us all.
posted by Vetzine