Hundreds of Thousands Take Stop the War Message to Congress




O

n Saturday January 27, 2007,
hundreds of thousands of peace protestors responded to President
Bush’s call for a troop surge with a peace surge of their own
that flooded the streets of Washington, DC and other cities around
the U.S. These massive anti-war demonstrations took place less than
a week after President George Bush urged Congressional support for
an additional 21,500 troops for the war in Iraq. Veterans, labor
and religious groups, and people from around the U.S. marched along
a route that encircled the Capital building. While the usual controversy
has ensued over attendance numbers, one thing is certain, the march
route was altered to accommodate more participants than the police
expected. 


Crowds chanted, “No more war!” “This is what democracy
looks like,” “Not one more dollar.” Other protestors,
including many parents with their children, were perched upon government
buildings along the march route, brandishing home-made signs calling
for world peace and a quick end to military conflict. A group of
Code Pink women carried a large pink slip above their heads chanting,
“Here come the pink slips.” 


Florida Peace activists Vicki Impoco, Sharan Miller, and Mindy Stone
marched with a banner reading: “Melbourne, Florida, War Isn’t
Working, Troops Out Now!” 


Impoco, who is the co-organizer of Brevard Patriots for Peace, said
she flew to Washington to try and put a stop to the president’s
plans for escalation in Iraq. Impoco was particularly encouraged
to see so many veterans at the event: “I think what moved me
the most was when I saw a Marine in full dress just walking through
the crowd,” she said. “I went up to him and shook his
hand and thanked him for his courage and for being there.” 


She was also surprised with the tone of the march. “That was
my first demonstration in Washington  and I was really overwhelmed
by the number of people that were there and how peaceful it was
and how everyone just bonded.” 


A long-time activist with several DC marches under her belt, Sharon
Miller said there were more young people involved than in the past.
“I think the difference was the families and the college students,
especially the high school students. I think that was a huge difference
from past marches.”







Capturing the mood of the event and its participants, Rev. Graylin
Hagler of Plymouth Congregational Church, Washington, DC said he
wanted to remind the Congress, “When we voted in mid-term elections…it
was not a multiple choice question; when we voted it was not a suggestion;
when we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home now.” 


A variety of groups and individuals were on hand, from 12-yearold Moriah Arnold of Harvard, Massachusetts to Rev. Jesse Jackson
and Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of

Tikkun



Moreover, several U.S. Representatives were there with plans for
peace. Speakers included: Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), a candidate
for the 2008 presidency; Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chair of the
House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA); Rep. Maxine
Waters (D-CA); and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). 


Woosley, joined by Waters and Lee, has introduced HR 508, “Bring
Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act,” which
she told marchers would “end the U.S. occupation in Iraq within
six months, saving lives and limbs and money and American’s
standing in the world.” Adding, “HR 508 is the only comprehensive
legislation that puts us on the fast track to a fully funded military
withdraw from Iraq.” 


Rep. Waters, an African-American, offered fierce criticism of the
Administration, including Condoleezza Rice. “My name is Maxine
Waters and I’m not afraid of George W. Bush. My name is Maxine
Waters and I’m not intimated by Dick Cheney. My name is Maxine
Waters and I helped to get rid of Rumsfeld. My name is Maxine Waters
and Condie Rice is nothing but another neocon and she doesn’t
represent me.” 








Throughout
the event, at the foot of the stage, the anti-war group Code Pink
had set-up a moving display—an eight-foot cylinder containing
pairs of shoes representing the Iraqi dead. One of the group’s
members encouraged protestors to place an ID tag, including the
victim’s name, gender, age, and manner of death, onto one of
the hundreds of shoes spilling out five feet around the base of
the memorial. 


By the protest’s end, trashcans overflowed with signs and many
activists headed home. Still a steady stream of sad-eyed volunteers
placed tags on shoes. 


 





Jeff
Nall is a community activist and freelance writer.