Rambling account of protest march

Here is my free-flowing account of the Stop the War/Impeach Bush protest held on Saturday in DC. You can read Salon’s coverage here. I really appreciated the opportunity (and knowing about it beforehand) so that I could do something. I’ve been feeling so powerless lately that shouting for a day made me feel better. Having never been to anything like this before, it was a great learning experience.
I went with friends which made the experience very enjoyable, as there was a lot of waiting, standing around, and walking. It was part neighborhood festival, part sight-seeing tour, and part social studies lesson. We people-watched. We listened to the speakers. We marched. We had nice conversations with those around us. We looked at and appreciated cool buildings (the White House looks so much smaller in person, I guess tv really does add ten pounds). We took a ton of pictures of us and the other protesters. We chatted and caught up with each other as well as discussed the different topics of the day. We chanted and took turns holding up a sign that read, “Support the Troops: Bring them home now.” I wondered where Susan Sarandon was.
Seeing the different homemade signs was cool, funny, and poignant. One sign read, “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.” Some called the war a class war and others asked how many gallons of oil a liter of blood was worth. Some signs were dedicated to dead soldiers. Some called Bush and Cheney evil (“Cheney/Voldemort ’08” is the one I remember the best). A lot of signs called for impeachment (which, thank you). Most signs reflected the idea of supporting the troops AND ending the war. One sign read, “Read Chomsky.” My favorite sign was “Supporting peace is not unpatriotic.”
There was a big age range of participants, everyone from grandparents to students and a handful of kids and tots. There was a Santa; a guy in camo, smeared in fake blood; a 12 foot tall figure dressed as war; a fake Bush and Cheney or two. Tons of veterans. A lot of out-of-towners. There were a few tourists who happened to wander into our midst as they tried to cross the street against the mass. A lot of older women. A lot of banners that went off of the “stop the Iraq war” agenda (as did some of the speakers), which led to me wondering what kind of tangents were raised at the Civil Rights march where King made his famous speech (Maybe, “BTW, school lunches suck”?).
There are estimates that one million Iraqis have been killed.
Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General, and the head of ImpeachBush.org, listed some of the reasons for impeachment:
* Criminal negligence after Katrina.
* Intentionally and knowingly LYING to the people, Congress, and the world about reasons for war.
* Detaining American citizens without charges or counsel. (Hello, Constitution? Where are you?)
* Sanctioning torture.
* Illegal wire-tapping, illegally ignoring judicial authority. (Yoo-hoo, Constitution? Still can’t find you.)
* Attorney General/Gonzales firings scandal.
Cindy Sheehan talked about how she “retired” from this, and it was heartbreaking to hear. After all her efforts, she felt like nothing was being accomplished. People would march and yell and then go home and watch a football game. (I wonder how my fantasy football team did. The Redskins are playing tonight- Woot!) She came back though and encouraged everyone to participate in more civil disobedience. She wanted us to “stand up and lie down!” She also encouraged soldiers to refuse to fight. Which, no. That is a capital offense.
There was a lot of questioning of the government, Bush, Cheney, Pelosi, Obama, and Congress. There was a lot of “preaching to the choir”. (But the crowd drew the media, so I guess some of the speeches were a good thing.) There was a teeny tiny bit of harsh words exchanged with the anti-anti-war people, but not by me. One of the anti-anti-war signs read, “Casey Sheehan would be on our side”. See how I was nice and didn’t call them pro-war? There was one guy- one!-selling soft pretzels and cold water right in the middle of the marchers’ path. As we were listening to the speeches and then marching, I couldn’t see the end of the people, even when higher up. There were so many people there it was amazing.
At the Capital, we saw the Iraq war veterans do the mock funeral to start the “die-in” and saw the first person get arrested. We left after that. I am disappointed at the media’s coverage of this, since I don’t know what happened to the one thousand other people who signed up to participate. (ETA- I’ve since read 160 were arrested.)
Honestly, I am unsure about the point of those who got arrested. They were arrested for crossing police lines. We were fine on the walkway leading to the Capital steps and the front lawn. Many many people lied down on the lawn. But some protesters crossed the line, which is when they were arrested. Did these people really-super-badly want to protest on that specific piece of property or did they simply want to be arrested? Some civil disobedience makes sense to me: chaining yourself to a tree so that it won’t be cut down; not sitting in the back of the bus to protest civil rights’ differences; blocking the path to abortion clinics (which I don’t agree with). These acts have an easy-to-understand relationship between the crime and the protest. But wanting to lie down on a certain piece of property doesn’t make sense to me. I fully concede that I may be missing something vital to their rationale. I went to the website though, and didn’t learn anything.
There was a physical kerfluffle with several people being taken down by the statue/monument thingie in front of the Capital after the die-in started, but I don’t know the details because I was in the port-o-potty at the time.
We saw a couple of dozen police on horses, a dozen on bikes, and a few dozen more hanging around by their cars. They weren’t bothering anyone and it was nice to see them since I wasn’t intending any skirmishes.
As we left the area and walked towards the Washington Monument, I asked my friends to pretend to be international spies when we got to the other side of the Monument. But we didn’t walk that far, so that plan was nixed.
Max was disappointed he didn’t go and asked if he could go to the next one. He also wants to set up an anti-war website and have his own protest march. After I tucked him into bed, he said, “If the war ends while I am asleep, can you write a note and put it on my door?”
I don’t think this will change anything. More and more people are starting to speak out though, so maybe eventually things will change. Maybe all it will take is a new president. One sign read, “Only 142 days [or whatever the right number is] to impeach Bush.”
My parents are proud of me though, which is still cool even though I am 33. My mom assured me that protests against the Vietnam War are what finally brought the troops home. There are more marches and protests planned: one urging Congress to not renew funding (we’re spending $2 billion a week is one figure I heard), one involving meditating for peace, and there are synchronized regional ones in late Oct in which they are hoping to get a million people involved all over the nation.

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