Sunday, January 28, 2007

Birth of a True Movement

I've just returned to Asheville from the wildly successful anti-war march in Washington D.C. My deep thanks go to our local Veterans for Peace Chapter for the wonderful travel and lodging they coordinated for us.

I rate this effectiveness of this march extremely high based on several important measures. United for Peace and Justice, who organized the rally, estimate the number of attendees at 400,000, which the NYT cites without question. Consensus suggests this is a quite accurate number. There were also many local rallies around the Nation, and so the numbers were fantastic.

There were also at least two very valuable civil disobedience actions, the first of which was the storming of the Capitol Building's steps by SDS. That's right! SDS IS BACK!

The other was a massively energetic street-blocking sit-in on the parade route with chants of "SIT DOWN! Surround the Capitol!" Lots of folks sat, several danced, and the chanting was loud and cohesive. This peaceful but illegal and confrontational demonstration with about 60 people participating (SDS'ers joining after the Capitol Steps "Surge") escalated into a major stand-off with Capitol Police. The police responded with about 12 each of motorcycle units and horseback units, a helicopter, about 10 police cars, and rooftop surveillance. The number of protesters probably delayed their attempts to make arrests, and as they eventually moved in to make arrests and rammed forward through the crowd with the motorcycles, the chant changed to "ARREST GEORGE BUSH!" right into the faces of the befuddled police.

I'll write more about Saturday's march and the now highly energized 2007 Peace Movement tomorrow. Gotta get some shut-eye now.

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