The octogenarian Seattle activist whose face was seen in news media around the world when police pepper sprayed her during an Occupy Seattle protest last month, was honored at a large community gathering on Sunday, Dec. 11, the day preceding a large protest action planned for the Port of Seattle.
Community activists, political campaigners, Occupy Seattle supporters, local church ministers and a Buddhist monk turned out to celebrate the 85th birthday of local activist and Occupy Seattle movement spokesperson Dorli Rainey with music, laudatory speeches, personal testimony and passionate political statements.
Dorli's long history of community activism and political campaigning were recounted by numerous speakers at the University Temple United Methodist Church in Seattle, including United Methodist minister Rich Lang.
Barbara Tomlinson, from the group "Women In Black," recalled a story about Dorli's activism at City Hall.
According to Tomlinson, after Dorli fell on the sidewalk near her home and broke both of her arms, she went to the Mayor's office and showed him her casts. She told him, "You've got to fix that broken sidewalk before anyone else is injured!"
By the next morning the city had repaired the sidewalk after months of ignoring the problem.
This was just one example of the many ways in which Dorli Rainey has affected her local community in Seattle. She is also famous for running a spirited political campaign for mayor with the help of many of her neighborhood activist friends.
"Dorli stands silently at the park with our group 'Women In Black' every week to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the treatment of Palestinians, " Barbara Tomlinson told the group,
Women In Black was formed in Seattle in solidarity with a similar group in the Middle East which has been organized by Christian, Muslim and Jewish women.
Recently Dorli appeared on the Keith Olberman Show on MSNBC. It was perhaps the only time viewers have ever seen Olberman remain speechless during an interview. She talked about her childhood experiences in Europe and the rise of fascism. She warned that unless people in the US stand up for human rights and speak out, the country may be headed in the same direction.
Among the adoring crowd at her birthday were Occupy Seattle participants who were also pepper sprayed by police while standing alongside Dorli Rainy. None of them expected her to become an international spokesperson for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but everyone is glad that she did. Because of the fact that her suffering was displayed for the world to see by a news photographer named Joshua Trujillo, she has now become the international face of the 99%.
In response to the adulation she received at her birthday party Dorli told everyone, "I am very proud to know the people who are here tonight. You are a microcosm of what we are trying to achieve in this movement. I am inspired by your integrity and your commitment to non-violence."
In her usual cheerful manner she added, "Now, let's eat some of that birthday cake!"