INTERVIEW: Protester Medea Benjamin explains what it’s like to yell at President Obama

Medea Benjamin, an activist from the organization called Code Pink, shouts at U.S. President Barack Obama while he speaks at the National Defense University May 23, 2013 in Washington, DC.  Credit: Getty Images
Medea Benjamin, an activist from the organization called Code Pink, shouts at U.S. President Barack Obama while he speaks at the National Defense University May 23, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Credit: Getty Images

Long-time activist Medea Benjamin was at the center of attention Thursday after she repeatedly interrupted President Obama as he spoke about the U.S. drone policy and Guantanamo Bay. Obama paused several times to address her and let her speak for a good minute before moving on with his comments. Benjamin, co-founder of the social justice movement CODEPINK, refused to budge from her seat and was eventually escorted away. Metro spoke with her after she was released to ask more about her spur-of-the-moment decision literally heard ’round the world.

Metro: What is it like to yell at the President like that and be heard by the entire nation?

Benjamin: It’s really scary! I was listening intently and was more and more disappointed as I heard him talk about drones and not using his power to say they will take them out of the CIA. There were rumors he was going to put an end to signature strikes and yet he didn’t do that. And then Guantanamo Bay — he is Commander in Chief! He could close it today.

Did you go in there planning to address him like that?

I thought that perhaps I would be happy with what he would say. I really went in with an open mind.

Did they try to silence you? Did you have to resist?

It’s a very formal setting and I think they would have been embarrassed to have pulled me out in a brutal way. They tried to and I insisted on staying in my seat. I appreciate that we have the ability to speak out, but more important to me is to have policies that coincide with the Geneva Convention and international law.

What did you think when the President said, ‘That woman’s voice is worth listening to’?

I thought that was really great but I think rather than just more nice words, we need action. There are 102 men in Guantanamo Bay who are starving themselves,  30 being brutally force fed. They need justice.

What did you think of his responses to you?

I’m not content with words. What we want to see is actions.

Have you been to one of Obama’s press conferences before and addressed him like this?

This was my second one. Yes, I have spoken to him privately but nothing like this.

What was it like when they came over and tried to silence you?

It was really scary. They were saying they were army  and FBI and Secret Service. It was intimidating. I insisted on remaining in my seat and getting a chance to speak out more on the drone program because I had only talked about Gitmo. I don’t think anyone would do anything like this lightly… I’m still shaking…

How did the people around you react?

[Laughs] They were kind of shocked. They didn’t know what to do. The police asked them to get away from me so I was by myself surrounded by other press and law enforcement.

Were you arrested?

No. I was taken to a room and asked a lot of questions and I was very forthcoming and then I was allowed to leave. They just asked basic questions about everything from where I lived, my phone number, social security number to why did I do it.

Do you plan to show up to another Obama press conference?

I have no idea. One day at a time.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.