Medea Benjamin: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

Obama Heckled About Gitmo Bay During Speech (05/23/13) | The New York TimesAt the National Defense University, the President discussed his administration's efforts to close down the facility at Guantánamo Bay and was repeatedly confronted by a protester. Read the story here: Subscribe to the Times Video newsletter for free and get a handpicked selection of the best videos from The New York Times every week:…2013-05-23T20:02:55.000Z

Medea Benjamin is the heckler who just interrupted President Obama’s speech, in which he justified the drone policy that has killed American civilians and denounced the existence of Guantanamo.

Who is this woman who stole the show? Here’s what you should know about Benjamin and her attention-grabbing methods.

1. Benjamin is a Well-Known Activist

medea benjamin, obama heckler

Medea is one of the most famous activist in the United States. The Los Angeles Times called her “on of the high profile leaders” of the peace movement and in 1999, San Francisco Magazine included her on their list of the most powerful people in the Bay Area.

2. She’s the CoFounder of the Humans Right Group Global Exchange

medea benjamin, obama heckler
Her and her husband Kevin Danaher founded a non-governmental organization called Global Exchange in 1988. The goal of the organization is to promote human rights and social, economics, and environmental justice around the world. According to their website, they’ve accomplished quite a bit:

Over the last 25-years, we have won victories big and small on behalf of workers, small farmers, the environment and vulnerable communities around the world. We helped build a thriving Fair Trade movement. We championed campaigns to stop and end wars, challenge corporate power and bring attention to the exploitation of the current global economy. We monitored elections in Colombia, Mexico, and in the U.S. We built the largest sustainability event (Green Festival) in the country from the ground up and trained young adults in green careers. We have organized social conscious travel around the globe on our Reality Tours. And we are still going strong!

3. She’s Also the Co Founder of Code Pink

Obama Heckled in Drone Speech Gitmo Hunger Strikers
Benjamin also founded Code Pink. According to their site, CODEPINK is a “women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.” The organization is not exclusive to women and has male members as well.

4. She Ran For The Senate

In 2000, Benjamin ran for the US Senate as a member of the Green Party in California. Her campaign focused on instituting a living wage, improving education, and universal healthcare. She garnered 3 percent of the vote.

5. Her Husband Is Also A Famous Activist

kevin danaher, medea benjamin husband, obama heckler
Her husband is Kevin Danaher, another famous activist and author. He’s written a number of books against globalization and received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

6. She’s Been Arrested and Deported From Pakistan and Bahrain

In 2007, she was arrested by plainclothes police officers in Lahore, Pakistan, and detained by the ISI for eight hours before being deported. In Pakistan, she was protesting the house arrests of lawyers. In 2012, Benjamin was again arrested and deported for “illegal entry” into Bahrain and being a part of an illegal protest during her time in the country.

7. Benjamin Loves Protesting

Between 2002 and 2009, Benjamin led protests against Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In addition, she protested both the 2004 Democratic National Convetion and the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Similarly, Benjamin protested AG Eric Holder, who was testifying to Congress regarding drone usage. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, gave a speech that Benjamin also protested. You can watch video of Benjamin protesting LaPierre below:

Heckler interrupts NRA press conference about Sandy Hook shooting with "NRA KILLING OUR KIDS" sign2012-12-21T16:49:44.000Z

8. She Heckled John Brennan on Drones Last Year

medea benjamin heckler, obama heckler

Last year, Benjamin and other heckled current CIA director John Brennan and disrupted his confirmation hearing for the position of CIA director. It resulted in a brief postponement in the proceedings as the room was cleared. You can see a video of the incident below.

Code Pink Challenges John Brennan on US Drone WarfareCode Pink Activist Medea Benjamin speaks out against civilian causalties and human rights violations before John Brennan.2012-05-01T19:13:06.000Z

9. She Wrote a Book About Drones

medea benjamin, obama heckler
Benjamin also authored Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. The book’s description on Amazon reads as follows:

Weeks after the 2002 American invasion of Afghanistan, Medea Benjamin visited that country. There, on the ground, talking with victims of the strikes, she learned the reality behind the “precision bombs” on which US forces were becoming increasingly reliant. Now, with the use of drones escalating at a meteoric pace, Benjamin has written this book as a call to action: “It is meant to wake a sleeping public lulled into thinking that drones are good, that targeted killings are making us safer.”

Drone Warfare is a comprehensive look at the growing menace of robotic warfare, with an extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who “pilots” these unmanned planes, who the victims are, and what the legal and moral implications are. In a vivid, accessible style, the book also looks at what activists, lawyers, and scientists are doing to ground the drones and considers ways to move forward. In reality, writes Benjamin, the assassinations we are carrying out via drones will come back to haunt us when others start doing the same thing–to us.

10. She Wants To Impeach Obama past February, Benjamin called for the impeachment of President Obama and said unequivocally that CodePink supported the impeachment of President Obama as well. According to this article, Benjamin spoke about her opinions on President Obama:

In an interview with WABC Radio’s “Aaron Kelin Investigative Radio” on Feb. 10, when asked if Code Pink endorses the idea of impeaching Obama for his drone warfare policy, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin gave a firm yes. Code Pink once supported Obama, its other co-founder, Jodie Evans, having been a financial bundler for Obama in 2008. Benjamin, however, did not commit Code Pink to ensuring that Obama is impeached, still saying that “it’s not going to happen.”

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