Volume 76, Number 5 | June 21 - 27 2006

Gay Pride
A special Villager supplement

Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

Florent Morellet with Raging Granny Sylvia Knight of Chelsea

Pride March co-marshal steps up for Grannies’ Trek

By Jefferson Siegel

In a tune-up for his role as co-grand marshal — along with Council Speaker Christine Quinn — of Sunday’s Gay Pride March, Florent Morellet hosted a packed benefit for the Grandmothers Against the War at Florent, his Gansevoort St. restaurant, on June 13.

The Grannies were raising money for a Peace Trek, a bus trip to Washington, D.C. They will leave New York on June 24 and spread their antiwar message to communities along the way, arriving in Washington on July 3 to join the CODEPINK Troops Home Fast protest.

The 18 women were arrested in Times Square last October for trying to enter the Armed Forces Recruiting Center and were acquitted of disorderly conduct charges last April. In their recruiting station action, they said, since they had lived long lives, they would be willing to take the place of young enlistees so they would not have to die in the war.

On a stage, the Grannies, one by one, each read several lines of the statement they read last October before their arrests.

“We are grandmothers heartbroken over the large loss of life and limb in Iraq. By this action we are not supporting the use of military force in Iraq — in fact, we are totally against it.”

Also at the benefit were Jonathan Tasini, the antiwar Senate candidate, Leslie Cagan of United For Peace and Justice and attorney Norman Siegel, who successfully defended the Grannies.

“Historically the Grannies walk in the shoes and the footprints of the Southern civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam war protesters,” Siegel said. “The message is clear: No more war.”

The always politically active Morellet organized the event for the Grannies, sending out the e-mail invitations and all the rest, since, he noted, this is not their forte. It was an exhausting effort, he said, but worth it.

“It was the best event we ever had at the restaurant,” Morellet said. “It was so uplifting to see these women. Such energy and attitude. They were so overwhelming and charming. If I can be like them in my old age, I will be O.K.” Asked if he’s supporting Tasini, Morellet said he recently attended a Hillary Clinton fundraiser.

The Grannies need at least $25,000 to fund their trek. So far, contributions have totaled $18,000. They hope to raise the balance before their 11 a.m. departure this Saturday.

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