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<nettime> Report on Saturday's anti war demonstration in Washington-1/27
Ronda Hauben on Mon, 29 Jan 2007 18:48:57 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Report on Saturday's anti war demonstration in Washington-1/27/07

          Anti-War Demonstration in Washington on January 27, 2007
                Anti-War Sentiment in the U.S. Grows


It was 6:15 am on Saturday morning, January 27. We had gotten up at
4 am to get to the bus to go to Washington for the march against the
Iraq War. I was surprised that several people I had spoke to didn't
even realize there was a march happening. The anti war group United
for Peace and Justice had called the march for January 27, just after
the new Congressional session had gotten underway. Several people I
spoke with who were going felt that if there was any way to have an
impact on what was happening, it was important to do so. The person
I sat near in the bus had lived under Hitler and felt that what was
happening in the U.S. reminded her more and more of what Hitler had
done. She particularly mentioned the ways the government would conceal
the truth or lie to the public.

The bus ride was several hours, but not as long as the ride for those
who came from several other parts of the country. We didn't arrive at
the place where the buses were set to park until after 11:00 am. The
rally was starting at 11 am and we still had to take the subway into
D.C. We got off the buses and headed to the subway station. There was
a crowd of people from various parts of the country who were at the
station, with their signs. It was good to see so many people, ranging
in ages, from students to veterans of the anti war movement of the
1960s. One of the most unusual signs had a chicken on the back and a
caricature of Bush on the front.

Once on the subway train we waited a while as the train grew more
and more crowded. Finally we were jammed in the car. I spoke with
someone who had come from Long Island and he said he was convinced the
war was being made for Iraq's oil and that it was crucial to oppose
Exxon to oppose the war. He was urging people to boycott Exxon and to
demonstrate against its executives. He wondered what was behind the
Neocons determination to get the U.S. to invade Iraq.

The subway train finally arrived at the D.C. station and we got out.
We headed over to the Mall facing the Capitol. Jesse Jackson was still
speaking, as one of the last of the speakers.

Jackson was talking about leaders and how there was a need for new
leaders. More important, he started to speak about the need for the
United States to have a vision, a new vision. The vision he spoke
about was one where "right makes might" not the opposite. There was a
need for new roads and for education and for housing in the U.S. not
for troops in Iraq.

We went around to the area where the march was going to begin. There
was a sea of signs. "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame
of killing innocent people," read one sign. Another sign spoke about
the lies that had been spread by the government to justify the attack
on Iraq. The march started off. Soon the people where I was standing
began to join in. There were chants, "Hey hey, ho ho, George Bush has
got to go," or "What does democracy look like? This is what democracy
looks like."

Talking to some of the people marching nearby, one pointed out that
for each person here there were at least 50 who hadn't come who were
opposed to the war. "War is so last century" read one sign being
carried. "War=terrorism with a bigger budget," read another. Someone
nearby started to sing, "This land is your land" and others joined
in. The weather was warm for the end of January and the sun shinning.
"Hey King George the Decider, Could you Please Spread Some of that
Democracy Over Here" read another sign. "Purge the right to Surge,"
read another. "Congress, stand up to Bush," another sign said. "War is
tragic, peace is magic," said another. It was fine to see so many home
made signs. It was that people found their own personal way to say
they were opposed to what their government is doing. "When leadership
is disgraceful, the people must lead," another sign proclaimed,
"Miriam was here, January 27, 2007."

There were banners from different areas of the country, banners from
veterans groups showing their opposition to the war. Banners from
churches, several unions sent groups of people. Students from colleges
and universities marched. Some protestors dressed up as Rumsfeld and
Cheney and Bush and donned prison garb. A baby was carrying a sign
that said "Put Bush in his place, in the Hague." A large paper machier
dragon spelled out the letters for "Impeachment".

One demonstrator told me that he didn't know anything about the 1960s
as he was too young then. This was his first march and he was glad he
had come. He had been thinking about how Bush had gotten elected in
2000 and that the Supreme Court had put him in office. He felt there
was a constitutional crisis in the U.S. and that it would come to a

Several of the people I spoke with were part of small anti war
groups which had different activities. One group had sponsored a
debate between one speaker who said that the troops should get
out immediately and another speaker who said they should get out
in 90 days. Some other people I spoke with, said they had gone to
a Wellstone Camp weekend where there was training in grassroots
political activity. They believed that Paul Wellstone had probably
been killed. Another person said she was sure Bush would not pay any
attention to the protest and was probably out of town. Others were
pessimistic that even with the change in its political composition,
that Congress would cut off funding for the war.

Some of those I spoke with were hopeful that an increasing activism
on the part of more people would have an impact, others felt there
would need to be a new political party for there to be any change in
the continuation and escalation of the Iraq war. Also people spoke
about how little media coverage the march would probably receive, and
the numbers given by the press for how many people had marched would
probably be estimated as 1/10th of the actual size. As they predicted,
organizers said that they estimated the size of the demonstration at
400,000 while the media reported that "tens of thousands" had marched.

The march route was a long route and people were kept spread out as
the march wound its way through the streets of the Capitol. But the
march went on for hours, with new groups coming for more than 3 hours.

By 4 pm the police began to move behind the march. Police on motor
cycles, police on bicycles and police on horses began to appear. We
had to head back to our bus so we found our way back to the subway and
took the long ride back to where the buses had parked.

We arrived back in Manhattan around 11 pm. A question raised by the
events of the day was: Would this march help to give spirit to a
developing anti war movement. It was striking that the people who came
were not the people who in general have any power in U.S. society.
They were people from the ranks of the public, trying to speak out
against what they see as harmful actions of their government. If
the U.S. were a democracy, the government would be expected to pay
attention to such a protest, to reconsider its policy of expanding
the number of troops in Iraq and instead begin to pull U.S. troops
out of Iraq. Democracy, one sign carried in the demonstration said,
"is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the
people." I often have heard people in other countries say they believe
that the U.S. is a democracy and I wonder why they believe that. It
was clear that a great number of the people who had brought their
bodies and many of them their signs had little hope that few if any
in the current U.S. government would feel any reason to change their
support for continuing the war based on knowing that there is great
anti war sentiment among the people of the U.S. The reason that people
had come was not, it seemed, that they believed their government
functioned democratically and would heed their protests. Instead, the
reason people came seemed more that people wanted to let each other
know that they are opposed to the war and that they would do what they
could to stop it.

See article in OhmyNews for photos of the demonstration

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