Two activists from the group CODEPINK taking part in the US Social Forum were detained and prevented from entering Canada on Wednesday when they tried to cross the border from Detroit. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke spoke with one of them, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: One of the people I saw at the US Social Forum in Detroit was Medea Benjamin. Medea Benjamin and one of her co-activists at CODEPINK attempted to come into Canada the day before yesterday, Tighe Barry and Medea Benjamin. Medea describes what happened.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yesterday my colleague Tighe Barry from CODEPINK and I had an hour and a half free, and we thought, let’s go over to Canada and have lunch. We went there and were detained. They searched our car. They held me for questioning for about four hours and asked me everything about the Social Forum and what I was doing and what conferences I was taking part in. They asked if I was coming for the G20 summit. They even asked me who I voted for for president.
After four hours, they allowed me to return to the United States, but my colleague, Tighe Barry, was kept. He was held overnight, and he is still there for a second night in a row. They said that they can hold anybody who has any kind of record, a misdemeanor, a felony or anything, and they can hold them for as long as they want before they put them before a judge for deportation hearings. And one of the reasons they said they could do this is they said the United States does it all the time. So he has no charges against him, but he is being held now going on for forty-eight hours.
MIKE BURKE: Now, Medea, I know that both you and Tighe have traveled extensively around the world. Has this ever happened to either one of you before?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: No. We go everywhere. I mean, we’re constantly traveling, and Tighe is constantly traveling. He’s never had a problem. The issue with Canada is it’s the only country that shares the criminal database with the United States, so it has a record of everything that is in the criminal records here in the US computer system. So they can dredge up something from thirty years ago, which they did in the case of Tighe, as well as arrests that we’ve had making antiwar protests in Congress or in front of the White House. And it’s very dangerous, because this information sharing is starting with Canada and is supposed to then be extended to other countries that the US has special relationships with, like Mexico. So it’s important as activists that we really protest this now, before we’re not allowed to travel very far beyond our borders.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Medea Benjamin being interviewed by Mike Burke in Detroit. She and Tighe Barry didn’t make it into Canada. Tighe Barry has been held for more than a day now.