In a fiery speech from the 1964 Free Speech Movement, Mario Savio—a student leader at the time in Berkeley, California—declared that when the “operation of the machine” of this system “becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart,” people must “put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus—and you’ve got to make it stop.” At a time when the fascist-dominated U.S. Supreme Court is on the cusp of overturning Roe v. Wade and eliminating the right to abortion, that righteous call has great relevance.
Students recite Mario Savio quote from the Free Speech Movement
“There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even tacitly take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
At the beginning of June, people took bold, determined action in the spirit of Savio’s words, reaching millions across the country with the message: “Overturn Roe? HELL NO!” These courageous actions were an inspirational call for many, many others to step up and act—to put “your bodies upon the gears” of the system to STOP the outrage of making abortion illegal. As Sunsara Taylor, a co-initiator of RiseUp4AbortionRights.org, said on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show, these actions are “a beginning taste of the kind of disruptive, non-violent acts of courageous, defiance, protest that need to go on, across this country—thousands of people taking bold actions like this, waking up and rousing millions into struggle, very quickly.”
These actions included:
June 24: Guido Reichstadter, abortion rights activist, on the Frederick Douglass Bridge in Washington DC, protesting the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
June 21—Two activists working with RiseUp4AbortionRights.org jumped over the barricades surrounding the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, and handcuffed themselves to the fence. They chanted, “Overturn Roe? Hell no!” One of the activists, wearing bloody pants (symbolizing danger to women if abortions were made illegal) and “not government property” written on her stomach, called on people in their millions to rise up NOW to STOP the Supreme Court from taking away the right to abortion. She and a legal observer were arrested.
An article in the Washington Post (“With Supreme Court abortion ruling pending, protesters rally and wait”) gave a good account of the protest, including the following:
“We are calling on everybody to come back into these streets, to stop what you are doing — I don’t care what kind of inconvenience it is. You know what’s inconvenient? Having your life shattered by forced motherhood. And we are the ones who can stop this. There is nobody else,” Sunsara Taylor of New York City, co-founder of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, told a crowd of about 100 in which journalists and passersby outnumbered advocates.
Taylor said advocates would be there Thursday “and every single day until the Supreme Court rules, and if they take this right away, every day until they reverse that decision. This is our responsibility. This is our duty.”…
Araceli Herrera, 72, came from San Antonio to protest outside the court. She said that in her youth, she was raped by classmates in Mexico, where getting an abortion was illegal. She raised her son without telling him until he was an adult about his father.
“Not having the right to abortion puts women in chains,” she said in an interview in Spanish….
June 18: A group of youth organized by RiseUp4AbortionRights brought baby dolls to the street in front of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's house in order to dramatize “the American nightmare of forcing girls to give births against their will.” Barrett, part of the Christian fascist majority on the Court, came out publicly with the outrageous and callous claim that women being forced to bear children after abortion becomes illegal is no problem because they can put up the babies for adoption. According to a news release, “Youth organizers with RiseUp4AbortionRights wore ‘bloody’ pants and carried baby-dolls, illustrating the violence and horror inflicted on women and girls when abortion is not legal, and to challenge the millions of pro-choice people in this country to take to the streets and rise up 4 abortion rights now to stop the revoking of abortion rights. RiseUp4AbortionRights activists took this action not to change Amy Coney Barrett’s mind, but to make the stakes clear and call forth the pro-choice majority into the streets to stop the Supreme Court from taking away abortion rights.”
June 7: RiseUp4AbortionRights activists running into the middle of the basketball court at Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York, to disrupt a WNBA game, with #Green4Abortion bandanas and chanting “Get off the sidelines and into the streets!” There were cheers and standing ovations from many in the crowd. One of the WNBA players, Rebecca Allen, said at a press conference after the game about the protest, “I’m all for the message.”
June 5: During a Houston megachurch service presided over by Joel Osteen, a fundamentalist preacher, several defiant women stood up, stripped down to their underwear, waved green bandanas, and yelled out “My body, my fucking choice!” and “Overturn Roe? Hell No!” Among the protesters was a 21-year-old woman who is a former member of Osteen’s Lakewood church. She described how she had to overcome her fears and anxiety to step out, and “I just knew in my heart that as uncomfortable as I was and as difficult as it was to put myself out there like that, it has no comparison to the level of discomfort to just enforce pregnancy on someone.”
June 9: A RiseUp4AbortionRights activist chained herself to the fence at the Summit of the Americas meeting taking place in Los Angeles, hosted by Joe Biden. As she was handcuffed by riot pigs, the activist shouted out: “The U.S. Supreme Court is about to strip women’s humanity, women’s constitutional right to abortion. Biden and the Democrats are doing nothing! It is on us to bring society to a halt. Let’s fill the streets!”
June 6: Guido Reichstadter, a supporter of RiseUp4AbortionRights chained himself to the barricade fence surrounding the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., held up a green bandana, and began a hunger strike. He wrote in a Twitter post: “Let’s occupy DC in mass numbers to compel govt to save Roe! Staring in front of SC on June 13 come out into the streets to stay! Day after Day after day after day…”
June 5: In the middle of a Major League Baseball game at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, a giant green banner was unfurled from the bleachers, reaching down to the lower level, reading: “OVERTURN ROE? HELL NO! RiseUp4AbortionRights.org.”
June 10: During a Major League Baseball game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, a huge green banner reading “OVERTURN ROE? HELL NO!” was dropped from the upper decks behind home plate.
June 12: Activists disrupted Churchome megachurch Sunday services by in Kirkland, WA, near Seattle. Holding high the green bandana, the activists chanted “My body! My choice! Post-Roe? Hell No! Abortion on demand and without apology! Not the church, not the state! I will decide my fate! Rise up for abortion rights!” The activists began their protest by stripping down to bloodstained underwear symbolizing the danger and death of women from unsafe illegal abortions. Reposted from @refusefascismseattle.
June 7: Protestors in San Francisco—ranging from high school students to members of the Raging Grannies—disrupted business as usual on downtown Market Street as they marched through Westfield Mall and held a die-in at a busy intersection.