Photos: Close Guantánamo with Roger Waters and Justice for Tamir Rice with Witness Against Torture

18.2.16

Campaigners with Witness Against Torture, and The Peace Poets, from the Bronx, call for justice for Tamir Rice, the 12-year old black boy killed by police in Ohio in November 2014. No one has been held accountable for Tamir's death. (Photo: Andy Worthington).

See my photos on Flickr here!

I’ve recently posted two sets of photos from my US visit last month to call for the closure of the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, which, shamefully, is still open, despite President Obama’s promise to close it within a year on his second day on office in January 2009. The visit, as with my January visits every year since 2011, was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, where 91 men are still held, almost all without charge or trial, in defiance of the values the US claims to uphold.

The two photo sets I have previously posted were of my first ever visit to Florida — a lightning visit to attend a protest outside the gates of the headquarters of US Southern Command — and the annual protest outside the White House on January 11, the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, involving groups including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait. My thanks to Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait for organizing my trip, as she has every January since 2011.

I was representing two other groups I co-founded, Close Guantánamo, the campaign and website I set up four years ago with the US attorney Tom Wilner, and We Stand With Shaker, the campaign to free Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, which played a part in securing Shaker’s release in October. To celebrate, I brought the giant inflatable figure of Shaker that was at the heart of the campaign to the US for the very first time.

While I was in the US, I also took part in  a number of other events, and this third and final photo set from my US campaigning in January 2016 includes photos from these various events.

On the evening of January 10, I spoke about We Stand With Shaker and sang my “Song for Shaker Aamer” at “Visions of Homecoming: Close Guantánamo!” This was an event put together by Witness Against Torture, CODEPINK, and Bronx-based spoken word performers The Peace Poets, primarily to reflect on and celebrate their recent visit to Cuba to raise awareness of the need to close Guantánamo through a number of creative events undertaken within sight of the prison. I was delighted to have been asked to take part in this great evening of solidarity, and the video of me singing “Song for Shaker Aamer” is below.

As well as photos from this event, this set also includes photos from Witness Against Torture’s protest outside the Department of Justice on January 12, calling for justice in the case of Tamir Rice, the 12-year old shot dead by police in Cleveland, Ohio in November 2014 — just one of the hundreds of black children and young men shot with impunity by the police in the US every year.

This was a very moving event, as the protesters — myself included — sang a song written by The Peace Poets written for the occasion, and I reflected on how impressive it has been to watch the Black Lives Matter movement grow, but, at the same time, of course, how depressing it is that so many black people are killed by the police in the US — and, in addition, how disgraceful it is that the US imprisons, per capita, so many more people than anywhere else in the world, and how many of those people are also black.

After the DoJ protest, I joined another protest down the road from the Capitol, highlighting the many crimes of the government on the day of President Obama’s State of the Union speech, which I watched later with Witness Against Torture activists after they had packed up after their ten-day vigil and were enjoying pizza and beer in a local pizza place that was empty except for us. Watching the whole of the SOTU address was quite surreal, as I have never before had to endure such a long and sustained collection of platitudes — although I do give President Obama credit for speaking out about the disgraceful discrimination against Muslims that, at the time, was particularly focused on some reprehensible comments made by Donald Trump, whose very political existence shows how far any pretense at balanced political discourse has slipped.

The following day I got a lift to New York City with Debra Sweet and the actor and writer Chris Brandt, and the next evening I was in Harlem, speaking at Revolution Books (see the video here), and taking some photos for the Countdown to Close Guantánamo. A special guest was my friend and supporter Roger Waters, the former chief songwriter for Pink Floyd, and afterwards Roger took me to dinner, and, as part of an appearance on Democracy Now! the morning after, which I had arranged earlier (and which you can see here), paid a visit to the house where 16-year old cellist Alexander Rohatyn lives, who Roger had arranged to accompany him on the show in a version of “We Shall Overcome,” which you can see here.

I had a few more days in New York City after all this excitement, before I flew home to London, but no more Guantánamo-related events. I took some great photos out and about in Brooklyn, where I was staying, and in Manhattan, and I hope I’ll find the opportunity to post them sometime, but for now, if you’re interested, check out the photos I posted of my wanderings in New York City in 2012 and 2013.

A link to the photos is also posted below:

"Shut down Guantánamo" poster

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

2 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to my last set of activism-related photos from my recent US trip, on Flickr – a ‪‎Guantanamo‬ event with Witness Against Torture and The Peace Poets, a protest for murdered 12-year old Tamir Rice outside the DoJ, a State of the Union protest, and me with music legend Roger Waters on Democracy Now! launching the Countdown to Close Guantanamo. Enjoy!

  2. The Case of Tamir Rice says...

    […] Media Source […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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