Michele Darr lives in Salem, Oregon. She has been involved in peace and
social justice work since high school. She volunteers extensively with Oregon
While most people with opposing viewpoints have been respectful of
Michel's vigil, all too many have not -- particularly the people who fired
paintballs at the vigil early on 29 March 2003 and the people who assaulted
and menaced Michele and fellow vigil-keepers on the morning of 30 March
2003. Regardless of your opinion on the war, these are completely non-violent
protesters exercising their First and Fourth Amendment rights to free speech and
assembly. These civil liberties are vital to any democracy and must be
protected. Please challenge those who believe that non-violent protest should be
met with physical violence.
20 March 2003 (Salem, Oregon)
by Michael Heggen
Darr began a fast at sunrise on Monday,
March 17, 2003. She started out with a complete fast (i.e. not eating any solid food, and drinking
only vitamin teas,
coffee, and water). After ten days, she switched to a Ramadan-style fast
(i.e. no food or drink sunrise to sunset) in order to actually have enough
energy to be able to talk to people during the day.
She is staging her fast on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol
in Salem, where she has been sleeping in the open (and often wet) air since
March 17th. Oregon
State Police (who have been very professional, she says) will not allow tents or
any structures other than a patio umbrella and a tarp, which must be removed
early each morning before the building opens, so her vigil is not especially
I interviewed Michele on Wednesday, March 19,
2003. She agreed to keep a journal of her experiences during her vigil. I am
posting almost-daily updates from her journal on this site.
Occasionally, someone else will post a journal entry as well.
Just in the first three days of her vigil, Michele found
herself the subject of several school projects by students who are
visiting the capitol. One student said that she wanted to document
Michele's vigil because it was part of our history.
Michele says that she will maintain her vigil and fast "indefinitely". She will stay on the capitol steps until there
is closure in Iraq, she says.
Note: Michele reluctantly concluded her fast on May 11, 2003,
citing pressures in her personal life (like work and housing). She
remains active in peace and justice work.
Worst experience during vigil: "Hearing about
George W. Bush's speech [giving Saddam 48 hours or else] on
Best experience during vigil:
"The people, on both sides."
Thank you to...
The locally-owned Coffeehouse Cafe helped
Michele by supplying a commercial-sized thermos full of coffee, which
she freely shared with passers-by.
Additionally, locally-owned coffeehouse and coffee roaster The
Governor's Cup was very kind to deliver hot drinks with
personal messages of encouragement.
And local dry cleaner Downtown
Cleaners supplied plastic to keep Michele's signs dry in the Oregon
Many individuals have also stopped by to express support after
reading about her fast, keeping her supplied with candles,
encouragement, and signs. Thank you!