In this post, two eyewitness accounts from yesterday's peace march in Washington, both provided by friends from the Baltimore area. (Full disclosure: I have edited both of these items very slightly, mostly for spelling and punctuation. I have also added a bit of context [in square brackets] and a few links.)
I just got back from the Rally. What a much different experience from the other relatively peaceful ones! Confrontational: scary at one point. Went with Pete and some of the women from [the] Sept '05 [demonstration], and Margaret, and Gabe (African American -- I tell you this to paint the picture). We took the van all the way in. Great parking on the street. But in Starbucks we encountered the start of it. Vietnam vet in military gear. His group something Eagles (screaming a-holes, see this site) was called in by some right-wing group who told them we were going to deface the monuments, including Vietnam ones. I'd estimate a thousand or more of these guys.
"They" had the area near the start of demo all mazed off in fencing. You tried to go one way and "they", backed by the Park Service Police, blocked your access, and told you you can't go that way. Then there was a security checkpoint like at the airport near the war memorial. So we decided to go around all that. At one point, one of the guys pushed me (ERRRRRRRRRRRR) and it took all my control not to do it back and get arrested -- and the Park Police pushing me and others getting in my face. And, same with Margaret who is very level-headed but questioning them. "They" got right in Gabe's face and were saying some ugly things. Pete called them &*^^%%$$$ Fascists! My heart was a pounding and I was SO happy to get out of there and in friendly territory. Some yelled "I'd go to war for her!" and others saw my Buck Fush t-shirt and yelled "buck you", and one guy called Margaret "ass" and worse etc. etc.
We walked over the bridge to the Pentagon to the stage (some of those WV, brainless pro-war guys were on the sidelines holding up signs that said "Peace Sucks", "Here and There" and more) -- there were fewer people than other marches (maybe 50,000-100,000)? the weather deterred folks -- cold and windy. Good speakers, though, from all over world. Midway thru one of the speakers interrupted and said the police (dressed like storm troopers) had created a barricade not even near Pentagon and had sprayed some of the demonstrators with mace. I didn't see it, but heard they all of a sudden showed up (sirens wailing) and did this (unprovoked). Margaret and I stayed till the end, as the others were too cold and left before all the speeches. We took the train back to Baltimore. Stopped by a campout of demonstrators on way out -- quite a contrast to the rumored quarters of the pro-Bushies (rumor, too? -- who knows!!).
This one was tense and not as upbeat...
It was an important day to be in Washington, DC. And while many Americans busy themselves with their own personal lives, whether the kids have done their homework, or whether the car will be out of the shop on time, or even ponder what plan for season tickets they want for baseball season, too many still are only barely conscious that their country started it’s fifth year in Iraq. Our rogue government seeks to keep it that way.Many thanks to J.P. and R.O. for attending the rally, and for sharing their experiences with us.
I am very fortunate to have met and joined with so many people and friends that do care about more than their own very tiny, small lives. Is that redundant? I don’t think so. I know my own life is a tiny grain of sand upon a vast beach. But it does take all those grains of sand to make the beach.
Let it be known, I am NOT anti-war, but only against wars of aggression perpetrated by those who have profited in the amount of trillions in weapons, contracts and alliances with unsavory governments and selling them weapons. This happened in the 80’s. Iran contra. But few remember that those involved with that (who were pardoned), are the ones once again in charge now. Many Americans are stunted with long term memory loss. Well, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, and here we are once again. I am so angry at those people for forgetting or simply deeming high crimes and treason negligible.
A friend and I had decided to join the march on the Pentagon today, joining with tens of thousands of others, maybe hundreds of thousands once again to protest the war and truly support our troops and veterans. I can’t see. I am short.
However, this day was different. I knew it would be since it was publicized that the motorcycle group Rolling Thunder would be there in opposition as they were concerned that the “anti war” protesters would somehow "deface and desecrate The Vietnam War Memorial." I am NOT lying to you. (link to their site). Somehow they felt a bunch of peace activists were going to damage the national monument which bears the names of over 55,000 dead soldiers who gave their lives in the illegal immoral war for profit of 40 years ago. After 40 years, they still believe that peace activists spit on soldiers, a lie that was fabricated and encouraged by the administration and propagandists of the time.
To me, it was nothing less than astonishing to see that a number of people have been so brainwashed to believe that we are anti troop, don’t know the value of freedom and are “anti-democracy”. What was more astonishing were those that were completely ignorant of the Bill of Rights, that they challenged and acted physically aggressive to the peace activists, minding their own business, trying to get to the march.
My friend and I were two of those, and had mistakenly found the wrong area in which to try to get to where the march was forming. I had nothing outwardly to show my anti-war stance. My friend, however, wore several peace buttons. We really said nothing to the crowd, but the Iraq war and Bush supporters had plenty to say to us. We were told that we should be ashamed of ourselves, that we should support the troops and the president. Funny, but do they know what is being done to our troops, to lecture us in such a way? I suppose they thought they redeemed themselves by saying “it’s a free country and we had the right to free speech.” In truth the Bill of Rights allows them to say what they wish. However, their words indicated the very opposite of free country and free speech.
And well after a long walk, we dared to stop in the public restroom. Really, we thought we were in a “mixed” crowd at first. I pretty much kept my mouth shut, but I listened to the other women in the bathroom ranting about “those stupid war protesters” and “I guess we gotta go out and yell at them again” and “why don’t they understand our soldiers are fighting for our freedom? Why don’t they remember September 11th?” I can tell you there was not one New Yorker in that public restroom. Lucky there was not ... for all of our sakes. And I hate to say it, but their accents really were “red-state”. I guess the schools are bad there? Ignorance.
And so we passed through this sea of leather and flannel clad people with their signs of “God Bless America”, “We love our president”, and “support the troops”. And as we passed through amidst the angry, antagonistic jeers of those who saw my friend’s buttons, we heard the Rolling Stones blasting over their PA. Funny, I wonder why the Stones latest “Sweet Neo-Con Con” was not playing. It just goes to show magnified the ignorance of many in this country.
We realized this was no mix of Americans for and opposed to the war, but rather it was a stark symbol and reminder of the carefully planned Psy-Ops creating division among our people. This was not a friendly disagreement or difference of opinion. The “pro bush, pro-war” side was out for blood and angry. And they saw us as traitors and Anti-American. But which side, do you think, actually knew what the Bill of Rights actually used to guarantee us?
We made our way through to where we could see the peace marchers, and there was a barricade/jersey wall that separated where we needed to be. However the bikers blocked our path and told us they had the permit, and we were not allowed through. Really, this was a public monument and property. And they were NOT security, but citizens angry at the “traitorous” peace activists. He advised us we would have to walk through the crowd for several blocks and around. We gave up for a moment, paying attention to another scene that was unfolding.
And there also was a man probably in his 40’s, who held an “Impeach Bush” sign, and a small child in his arms. Like us, he had obviously entered in on the wrong side of things. But those of the pro war group quickly surrounded him and began screaming at him obscenities and to get out. The man (and child) tried to move and several rushed in and began pushing and pulling at them, trying to rip the sign out of his arms and telling him he was not allowed to leave their area with it. At which point the man started yelling back at them. This caused the women to yell about taking his child from him and the men proceeded to move in, like nothing less than a pack of wolves, grabbing him and pushing and shoving him. It was more than obvious that they wished to gang beat him. The men had little regard for the child and they would not let him leave. Thankfully, a police officer rushed in solo ... what a brave thing to do. He yelled at the Rolling Thunder people to clear a path and got the man, the child and the rest of us out of there. Ignorance and violence is a scary thing.
I lamented to myself that the bikers had surrounded the Viet Nam Memorial and I was prevented by their temperament from seeing it. Sadly, it seemed to me that it was they who desecrated that amazing wall with their hatred, ignorance and violent nature. I wanted badly to be able to see that wall. I did not mention it to my friend. There was no way it would have been possible.
We finally arrived at the march. It was an amazing site as the number of people gathered really did dwarf the gathering by Rolling Thunder which was by far small in comparison. The number of pro war bikers really was representative of the 30 percent who back Bush and the war. When put up against the peace crowd. That was heartening.
I was cursing though as the images of the one crowd against the other could not be captured due to most likely faulty batteries. Especially, when members of each crowd were shouting angrily. We were met with signs such as “Go To Hell Traitors” which to me was particularly memorable as well as the obscenities, hate and “FU”s screamed at the peace group as they marched past. Mostly the peace group was shouting “This is what democracy looks like” back at the bikers. And finally, fed up, I began to shout “Support Our Troops” which got a few others started and for a moment there was silence from the bikers. Pardon my language, but I am so god damned tired of hearing “Support Our Troops” from the Bush zombies who have no clue as to what sacrifices our troops are really making and how they are being taken advantage of.
I know this is a long story. Much happened today, and I did not have my camera to depict it. We did march until we reached the Pentagon where we had the parking lot and a stage was set up. There were many many speakers, memorable to me were the parents of fallen soldiers, Giuliana Sgrena, Cindy Sheehan, and also former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. And yeah, get over the anti McKinney propaganda. She was lynched because she worked harder and knew more than most in Congress bothered to. Don’t write me about either Cindy either, if you believe the slander and lies. Spare me regurgitation of the hate propaganda. I’m sick of it.
I want it also noted that up on one of the bridges at the pentagon, police in full riot gear complete with masks and clubs pushed a number in the crowd off of the bridge where they were. It should also be noted that many of the escalators in the Metros near the Pentagon had been turned off, making them almost impossible to use to get back to the center of DC. Odd, isn’t it, that the escalators in our nation's capital “just weren’t working” on a Saturday?
Lastly, it was huge and empowering. Don’t think for a minute that I feel protests are going to stop this war. The Democrats the people elected have granted the president authorization to attack Iran, and later Syria and Lebanon. The only thing that will stop the war is if the rest of this country wakes up before a war of a much larger scale happens.
Many people just don’t care in America. It’s just not their problem. And others of us who took the red pill can assure them: it will be.
As always, your comments are most welcome.
For a great deal of background please see Gavin M. at Sadly, No!
Anatomy of a Con Job