Washington demonstration draws more than 50,000 to protest spiraling Global Militarism!
Thousands of New Yorkers contribute to a determined, diverse crowd.
Members of the New York Coalition for Peace and Justice woke up early on Saturday, April 20th and piled into busses for Washington D.C. in an early morning scene that was being repeated by concerned people from all over the nation. Our six coalition busses came from both Brooklyn and Manhattan and represented broad participation from individuals, labor, students and local neighborhood groups. Above all we were people eager to reclaim New York’s name from those who have twisted our tragic loss into an excuse for vengeance and conquest.
When we arrived on the National Mall, it was clear that the voice of thousands of people, tired of having their voices ignored in the national discourse, would be heard today. The crowds stretched as far as the eye could see, with centers at the base of the Washington Monument and on the Ellipse in front of White House. Busses lined the avenues and in each moment discharged more determined participants who added to the breadth and diversity of the crowd. A feeling of freedom not felt since September 11 and the palpable sense of history being created lightened the moment in the hearts of all.
When the march began, the vast processions from each focus began to move, to chant and ultimately to merge into a flowing river of outrage, hope and energy for change. Pennsylvania Avenue was filled from the White House to the Capitol. Arab- Americans, longtime Peace and Justice activists, those seeking an end to U.S. intervention in Latin America, those fighting the structural injustice of corporate globalization and those defending our Constitutional guarantees of freedom walked in unity with many who simply knew in their hearts that the nation must fight back from the managed hysteria of war-psychosis fed to us from above. Hundreds marched with the signs we brought from New York, using their clean and clear lettering to appeal to Washington D.C. and – via news photographers – to the world beyond. As we passed the White House Visitors Center tourists and men in suits gawked as the streets filled with the uproar from those whose agenda was supposed to fade into the background after September 11th.
This most diverse of rallies poured onto the National Mall in front of the Capitol Building and all strained to hear the speakers, who talked of the need to stop the war on the poor around the world, the minorities in our country, and in this most critical moment, the Palestinian people. Among the most powerful messages of the day were from Muslims and Jews seeking a just peace in the Occupied Territories and Israel and decrying the genocidal madness financed by our tax dollars. Other speakers challenged all to maintain the unity of the day, and become aware that our individual struggles were the diverse faces of the same recurring problems of economic justice, global democracy, peace and self-determination for all.
Our brothers and sisters of New York Labor Against the War – one of the co-conveners of the day – spoke at both rallies, representing working people across the nation and New Yorkers in particular. It was important for others in the movement to hear these voices of our city diverging from the shallow script of vengeance written on our behalf. We all have a role to play in educating and enlisting our fellows in other parts of the country and the world. Saturday our presence successfully seized the chance to show world community that a progressive response no longer has to be whispered about in America, but can be shouted out in the seat of power.
Always underlying the speeches was the need to return home to energize our communities into action. This is a message which our Coalition is taking to heart. Through the logistical and organizing experience gained in our effort to bring the real message of New York to Washington, we hope to play a role in building a powerful and inclusive answer to the worldview pushed by the hawks in our government. Our role as a link between many organizations, drawing on the strengths and resourcefulness of each will allow us to focus those people who are already mobilized on this common struggle. Yet, our recent experience has taught us about the success to be had from reaching out to the many who feel the need, but do not yet see the means of resistance. As we pursue both paths we ask you to please join us.