Born in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 22, 1954, Jodie Evans is a radical activist and Democratic fundraiser best known as a co-founder of Code Pink for Peace.
Evans's first foray into activism occurred in 1970, when, while employed as a maid in a large Las Vegas hotel, she and other domestic workers held protest marches demanding that they be paid a “living wage.” Their efforts were supported by actress Jane Fonda, who marched with them. Two years later, Evans worked for Democrat George McGovern's presidential campaign.
From 1975-83, Evans served as a director of administration under then-California Governor Jerry Brown and (from 1975-81) his chief-of-staff Gray Davis. In 1992 Evans managed Governor Brown’s presidential campaign.
Evans rose to public prominence via her leadership role with Code Pink for Peace, a self-described “grassroots peace and social justice movement” which she co-founded on November 17, 2002 along with Medea Benjamin, Diane Wilson, Gael Murphy, a radical Wiccan activist calling herself Starhawk, and approximately 100 additional female activists. For four months, from late 2002 through early 2003 – shortly prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq – Evans led Code Pink members in staging all-day antiwar vigils outside the White House. These public displays brought Evans and her group considerable national news coverage and many invitations to appear as guests on talk shows.
During the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Evans and her Code Pink cohorts blamed America for all of Iraq’s ills. In late 2002, for instance, they said: “In Iraq today, a child with cancer cannot get pain relief or medication because of sanctions. Childhood diarrhea has again become a major killer. Five hundred thousand children have already died from inadequate health care, water and food supplies due to sanctions.” Yet Evans and her allies were silent regarding the reason why those sanctions had been put in place: Saddam Hussein's refusal to honor the very pledges he had made following the first Gulf War in 1991. Nor did they mention that while Iraq’s overall population was struggling during the era of sanctions, Saddam and his inner circle lived like royalty, illegally diverting countless billions of “Oil-for-Food” dollars into their own pockets.
In late January/early February 2003, Evans and fellow Code Pink members Medea Benjamin, Gael Murphy, and Rev. Patricia Ackerman (an Episcopal priest) went to Iraq to make a “preemptive strike for peace” by condemning the looming American invasion.
In late June/early July of 2003, Evans, Benjamin, Murphy, and Ackerman returned to Iraq to report on what they called “the Iraqi's [sic] struggle for democracy in the face of ongoing U.S. and British occupation.” While in Baghdad, Evans and her companions repeatedly and publicly painted America as an unprovoked aggressor, and Iraqis as noble defenders of their homeland. “Children continue to die of hunger,” they reported, “and electricity is unreliable. However, Iraqis continue to resist the occupation in their own way.”
Arguing that the Iraqi resistance against the U.S. troops who had invaded that country in March 2003 was well-justified, Evans said in an August 2003 interview: “Basically what the Americans did was destroy any form of infrastructure that could have held the country together – like the Iraqis say, to wipe anything that could hold the country together off the map.... There isn't an Iraqi you meet who doesn't feel that they're being disrespected, that this is being done on purpose. It's made them hate the American government, hate it. They just think it's stupid and cruel and mean and thoughtless and everything you can think of.... What's cool about the resistance is that the Iraqis don't back down.”
After Saddam was toppled from power, Evans supported the insurgents who were fighting American soldiers, despite the fact that many of those insurgents were foreign jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda-type groups, and were former members of Saddam's intelligence service, Republican Guards, and Fedayeen militia. To Code Pink, these were the representatives of the Iraqi people fighting for liberation.
In July 2003, Evans joined the Advisory Board of Iraq Occupation Watch (IOW) as a founding member. Medea Benjamin and Leslie Cagan established IOW in Baghdad to convince American soldiers serving in Iraq to obtain “conscientious objector” status and get sent home. As part of this process, they recycled anti-American news stories to the troops in Iraq, and spread “first-hand” accounts of mythical U.S. “atrocities” back home. Other IOW officials included Tariq Ali, Joel Beinin, Phyllis Bennis, Rania Masri, Maria Luisa Mendonca of the World Social Forum, Milan Rai of Voices in the Wilderness, and Pratap Chatterjee of Berkeley's Pacifica radio station KPFA.
In the weeks preceding the October 2003 recall election of California Democratic governor Gray Davis (who was Evans's longtime friend and political ally), Evans was instrumental in convincing several women to come forward and tell the L.A. Times about sexual harassment they had suffered years earlier at the hands of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was challenging Davis in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Moreover, Evans helped organize picketing sessions in front of Schwarzenegger’s campaign headquarters. By contrast, she had nothing to say about Davis’s well-documented episodes of violent and obscene behavior toward female staffers. Nor, for that matter, did Evans impugn the ill-advised remarks of her friend Bob Mulholland, a California Democratic Party spokesman who had told ABC News that “Schwarzenegger is going to find out, that unlike a Hollywood movie set, the bullets coming at him in this campaign are going to be real bullets and he is going to have to respond to them.”
In an August 2004 demonstration against Fox News in New York City, Evans reportedly told a counter-protester: “We have nothing against communism.”
In late December 2004, Evans and Medea Benjamin participated in a delegation to Iraq that also included representatives of Global Exchange, International Occupation Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Families for Peace. These delegates delivered more than $600,000 in cash and medical supplies (many of which were donated by Middle East Children’s Alliance and Operation USA) to the families of the insurgents who were fighting American troops in Fallujah, Iraq. Senator Barbara Boxer, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Rep. Henry Waxman provided diplomatic courtesy letters to help facilitate the transport of this aid through Customs. The organizations sponsoring the delegation were Code Pink, Global Exchange, the Middle East Children's Alliance, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Project Guerrero Azteca for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, and Voices in the Wilderness.
In 2005 Evans traveled to some 100 U.S. cities and gave presentations on the need for diplomacy, rather than war, with Iran. As part of this effort, she led a ten-person Code Pink delegation to Iran that April.
Evans wrote on June 26, 2005: “We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi people and defending their right to resist. I can remain myself against all forms of violence, and yet I cannot judge what someone has to do when pushed to the wall to protect all they love. The Iraqi people are fighting for their country, to protect their families and to preserve all they love. They are fighting for their lives, and we are fighting for lies. We must get out of Iraq now. They will rebuild their country, it will take time, a long time, but they cannot start until we are gone.”
In January 2006, Evans traveled to Venezuela with Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin for a friendly meeting with that country's Communist President, Hugo Chavez. Evans characterized Chavez as a “sweetheart,” adding: “He was a doll. Generous, open, passionate, excited, stimulated by the requests and happy to be planning with us. He was realistic but willing to stretch.”
In August 2006, Evans was part of a 12-person delegation of American radicals—including also Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, and Judith LeBlanc—who traveled to Jordan to meet with several members of the Iraqi parliament. Team member Geoffrey Millard referred to this trip as a “diplomatic communication.” As such, it may have violated the legal prohibition against private U.S. citizens conducting their own foreign policy. Among the prominent individuals with whom Evans and her cadre met were:
Shortly after that 2006 trip, Evans said that Iraq had been better off before the U.S. invasion, and she praised the degree to which Saddam Hussein’s (now-fallen) government had provided social services for the Iraqi population, saying: “Let’s go back to the Iraq before we invaded, there was a good education and health care system, food for everyone. That system didn’t belong to Saddam it belonged to the Iraqi, it belonged to years of creating what a civilization needed. If your parents didn’t send you to school they could be put in jail.”
In January 2007, Evans led a 15-person delegation to Cuba as a guest of that nation's Communist regime, and she worked with Fidel Castro's government to propagandize against the United States. In particular, Evans and her comrades condemned the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, where the U.S. was holding hundreds of captured Islamic terrorists.
In early September 2008, Evans perpetrated identity theft that enabled her to gain admittance to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota; she was detained by the Secret Service when she attempted to rush the stage during the acceptance speech of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
In a June 3, 2008 radio interview, Evans expressed sympathy for the grievances that had prompted Osama bin Laden to order the 9/11 attacks: “We were attacked because we were in Saudi Arabia, that was the message of Osama, was that because we had our bases in the Middle East, he attacked the United States.” When the interviewer subsequently asked Evans whether she considered that “a valid argument,” she replied: “Sure. Why do we have bases in the Middle East? We totally violated the rights of that country. Why do we get to have bases in the Middle East?” As national security expert Ryan Mauro subsequently noted: “Apparently, Evans is unaware that those bases were constructed with the permission of the Saudi government and are meant to protect the country from the very people she defends, like Saddam Hussein.”
In that same June 3, 2008 interview, Evans explained the reason why a major part of Code Pink's work was to target military recruiters: “As an antiwar activist, one of the things you try to do is you try to find the pillars that keep us at war and try to undermine those pillars. And one of the things: You can’t go to war if you don’t have soldiers.... We were trying to undermine the war effort!” When the subject of Communism came up during the course of the interview, Evans asked: “Why is being a Communist anti-American?”
In September 2008, Evans and Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin were among some 150+ “peace group representatives” who met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York, where he was slated to address the United Nations. During their meeting, Evans and her cohorts presented Ahmadinejad with a plan for the construction of a “peace park” in Tehran, and offered to invest money in Iranian businesses “that produce green and sustainable products, such as bicycles.” “It’s rare for a head of state to take time during an official U.N. visit to meet with the peace community, especially in a situation where the host government—represented by the Bush administration—is so hostile,” Evans said afterward in a statement. “The fact that the meeting took place and was so positive is, in itself, a major step forward.” Moreover, Evans said that Ahmadinejad was “really about peace and human rights and respecting justice.”
Evans and Benjamin were subsequently invited to meet with Ahmadinejad again, in Iran, two months later. During that subsequent visit, Davood Mohammad Niar, head of the U.S. Desk of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, escorted the Americans on a tour of the holy city of Qom.
In 2007-08, Evans devoted considerable energy and money to supporting the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. BigGovernment.com has chronicled Evans's extensive ties to Obama:
Notwithstanding her support for, and collaboration with, Obama, Evans eventually became disappointed in the president. In a 2011 interview with The Progressive, she recounted:
“In 2007, when Obama started to run, I wanted to support a black man for President, I wanted to support an anti-war activist for President. I thought it would be amazing while we were at war with Iraq and Afghanistan to have someone leading the country who said he was against war.
“By the general election, he had started talking about Afghanistan as 'the good war,' and I had pulled back. As a matter of fact, when I did go to events (because my husband continued to support him), I confronted him and said, 'There is no such thing as a good war.' I took the opportunity to really get under his skin and make him uncomfortable....
“And we watched the anti-war movement slowly just evaporate with Obama coming in and putting everyone to sleep. The betrayal was so shocking for people.... There is no leadership there. And you saw it early on. He compromises before he’s at the table.”
In 2009 Evans and Code Pink led several trips to Gaza, Egypt, and Israel, to deliver cargoes of “humanitarian aid” to Gaza's Hamas-led government, and to publicly denounce the Jewish state. During one trip to Gaza in early June of that year, Hamas gave Code Pink a letter to be hand-delivered to President Obama.
In an October 2009 interview, Evans's friend, Jane Fonda, recounted how Evans, in an effort to gain information and promote an end to the war, had recently met with Afghani warlords and members of the Taliban: “I sat next to Jodie who told me a little about her recent trip to Afghanistan with an American delegation that included a retired colonel, and member the State Department. While there, she met with people ranging from the brother of President Karzai, Afghan members of Parliament, activists, to warlords and members of the Taliban.”
In December 2009, Evans and Code Pink led some 1,300 leftists from 43 nations – among whom were Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn – to Cairo, supposedly to deliver “humanitarian aid” to the Hamas-led government of Gaza. Their plan was to cross through Egyptian border crossings into Gaza and to join, on December 31, the so-called “Gaza Freedom March” which was slated to take place there. To lend credibility to her mission, Evans carried with her a letter of support from Senator John Kerry. Prior to the trip, Hamas had guaranteed the safety of the Code Pink retinue in Gaza.
Ultimately, however, Egyptian authorities prevented most of the 1,300+ activists from entering Gaza. As journalist Caroline Glick reported: “Many were surrounded by riot police and barbed wire as they demonstrated outside the U.S. and French embassies and the UN Development Program's headquarters. Others were barred from leaving their hotels. Those who managed to escape their hotels and the bullpens outside the foreign embassies were barred from staging night protests in solidarity with Hamas on the Nile. In the end, … all but one hundred of them were barred from traveling to Gaza.”
Evans, Ayers, and Dohrn were not among those 100 (actually perhaps closer to 80). But they bore no bitterness toward Egypt, instead placing the blame squarely on Israel. “It's obvious that the only reason for [Egypt's treatment of the demonstrators] is to make Israel happy,” said Evans. “Israel is behind the refusal [to allow the demonstrators into Gaza] – what other excuse could there be?”
Hamas “Prime Minister” Ismail Haniyeh addressed the 80-to-100 leftists via the cellphone of an Israeli Knesset Member, Talab El-Sana, and told them: “We have managed to overcome the occupation plans and we will surely meet at the al-Aqsa Mosque and in Jerusalem, which will remain Arab and Islamic.” In the course of his talk, Haniyeh made no mention of any delivery of humanitarian aid by the protesters.
In 2009-11, Evans was a supporter and key organizer of the Free Gaza Movement. In May 2011 she condemned the “illegal and immoral [Israeli] blockade [of Gaza] that is slowly strangling the life out of Gaza by impoverishing and starving its people.”
In January 2010, Evans and Code Pink asked the Muslim Brotherhood to “join us in cleansing our country!” – and implied that an appropriate means of doing that would be to kidnap former President George W. Bush, his wife, Republican strategist Karl Rove, and various members of the Bush administration.
Evans and other Code Pink activists disrupted a March 2010 book signing by Karl Rove. At one point, Evans charged the stage towards Rove with a pair of handcuffs, stating that she intended to make a citizen's arrest. “Look what you did ... you lied to take us to war. You ruined a country. You totally ruined a country!” she shouted.
In August 2010, Debbie Lee – the mother of a young Navy SEAL named Marc Alan Lee, who had been killed in action in the Iraqi city of Ramadi four years earlier – reported that during a 2008 Code Pink protest at a Berkely, California military recruiting station, Evans and her fellow “Code Pink degenerates” had callously “taunted me and made light of my son’s sacrifice, telling me, 'Your son deserved to die in Iraq if he was stupid enough to go over there.'”
On January 30, 2011, Evans was arrested for disruptive behavior at a California protest she was leading against conservative philanthropists David and Charles Koch, because of the financial support they were giving to the Tea Party Movement.
In early 2016, Evans was a key supporter and organizer of Democracy Spring, along with such notables as Medea Benjamin, Heather Booth, John Cavanagh, Bill Fletcher Jr., and Jim Hightower.
Over the years, Evans has donated money to the political campaigns of many Democrats including Alan Grayson, Donna Edwards, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, John Edwards, Al Franken, Dennis Kucinich, Russell Feingold, Bill Richardson, Jim McGovern, Bernie Sanders, Tammy Baldwin, Mark Udall, Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Lee, Norman Solomon, Jerry Brown, Ralph Nader, John Kerry, and Hilda Solis.
For a number of years, Evans has sat on the board of directors of the Rainforest Action Network. She also has sat on the boards of such groups as the Women’s Media Center, the Institute for Policy Studies, the Community Self-Determination Institute, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Foundation for World Art, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, We Got Issues, See Jane, Global Girl Media, Circle of Life, the Sisterhood is Global Institute, 826LA, and the Office of the Americas.
In addition, Evans has supported activist groups like Citizen Action, the Earth Island Institute, and the California subsidiary of NARAL Pro-Choice America.