My friend Susan traveled to Washington, DC, this past Saturday for a march and rally that drew tens of thousands to the Capitol to protest the ongoing war in Iraq. She also observed a smaller pro-war rally that, according to the Associated Press, drew about 1,000 people.
I would have liked to have participated with Susan in Saturday’s anti-war march in Washington. As it was, I couldn’t even attend the local march and rally that took place in St. Paul as I was elsewhere in Minnesota facilitating part of a retreat for LGBT Catholics.
Accordingly, I asked Susan if she would take some photos and write about her experiences in the capital for The Wild Reed. Following is what she e-mailed me earlier this evening.
The pro-war rally was near the Capitol. There were over a hundred people – young and old – banded together by their common theme: “Freedom.” There were American flags everywhere. People were shouting “USA! USA!”
There were many speakers. One was a soldier who had had his arm blown off and his legs severely torn up. He stated that the doctors at the hospital had never seen such bad legs. He spoke about his “brothers” who were still in Iraq. He stated that he wanted to go back to be with his “brothers” and “fight for freedom.” Another speaker spoke about his experience on 9-11. He was on the 21st floor of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was hard to hear. Other speakers said that the anti-war supporters should go to another country and support the people there. They said that they were un-American and called them terrorists.
I found it depressing when fathers spoke about being part of the “Gold Club” as a result of their sons being killed in Iraq. On hearing these fathers speak, people would shout, “Thank you! Thank you!” and all I could think about was that the sons of these fathers were dead, and people say thank you. It was a powerful moment for me.
At the anti-war rally there were thousands of people – different groups, young and old – each speaking out against the war. All had the same message: “End the war now!” People were passing out t-shirts and buttons, pamphlets and newspapers. I saw people listening to speakers, sitting in tress holding the American flag and the peace flag. I saw prayer cloths and people sitting in a small group meditating, while others were staging a sit-in in the park. People were chanting different choruses as they prepared themselves for the march.
After I took a number of photographs I made my way back to Pennsylvania Ave. were the march was going to take place. There were media from all over the world. I had reporters from a French news team standing next to me. As the crowd marched, some people chanted “1-2-3-4! We don’t want your fucking war!” and “Fuck you W.” My favorite sign said “No one died when Clinton lied.” I didn’t get a picture of it, but I liked the message.
As the crowd continued to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, some supporters for the war were yelling, “Terrorists!” and “Leave America!” Some were quite verbal.
As the anti-war protesters made their way to the steps of the Capitol, people laid down on the ground so as to represent those killed in the war. Then people started jumping the barrier. That’s when the police started to arrest people. *
A special thank you to Susan for the great photos and commentary!
* According to Matthew Barakat of the Associated Press, more than 190 protesters were arrested. “Many were arrested without a struggle after they jumped over [a] waist-high barrier,” wrote Barakat. “But some grew angry as police with shields and riot gear attempted to push them back. At least two people were showered with chemical spray. Protesters responded by throwing signs and chanting: ‘Shame on you.’”
Recommended Off-site Link:
Iraq War: Unjust, Illegal and Immoral; Just War Theory Condemns Invasion by Paul Surlis.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering 9/11 and Its Aftermath
Let’s Also Honor the “Expendables”
Praying for George W. Bush
An Unholy Alliance in Iraq
In Search of a “Global Ethic”
When Terror is the Foil
More Propaganda Than Plot?
John le Carré’s Dark Suspicions
A Reign of Ignorance and Fear in the U.S.
Tariq Ali Discusses Rudyard Kipling
Phyllis Bennis: A Voice of Reason
Irene Khan: Shaking Things Up Down Under
Richard Flanagan Wants a “Gentler, More Generous” Australia
John Pilger on Resisting Empire