Though Metropolitan Police arrested at least 27 people at anti-war protests outside the White House Saturday, International Women’s Day demonstrators were relatively peaceful as they protested impending military action in Iraq. Code Pink, a coalition of women’s groups formed out of concern for the safety of children at home and abroad, organized the rally of nearly 5,000 demonstrators with a goal to surround the White House.
Code Pink has held a constant vigil outside the presidential mansion for the past four months.
“Women’s voices haven’t been heard, so it seemed fitting,” protester Sandra Larson said. “Women’s voices, women’s day.”
The rally was only one part of the day’s events.
A smaller morning rally at Malcolm X Park in Northeast featured authors Alice Walker and Maxine Hong Kingston and comedian Janeane Garofalo, who spoke out against a war on Iraq. Walker, author of “The Color Purple,” was arrested Saturday after crossing a police line across from the White House, CNN reported.
Garofalo said citizens do not need to see classified information to make an informed decision about Iraq.
The protesters at the park made their way to the White House at about 2 p.m., where about 200 others waited amidst a small group of counter demonstrators. The entire group marched to the Ellipse and up 15th Street, attempting to completely encircle the White House.
The protesters carried a barrage of signs reading, “Diplomacy, not bombs” and “War is extremely costly, but peace is priceless,” while many chanted things like “Women, united, will never be defeated.”
A pink, pig-shaped van cruised through the march, with two smaller pigs trailing, representing the amount of money spent on defense in comparison to such things as education, hunger and poverty.
“It’s important to us to have a voice,” protester Jackie Boothby said. “I’m tired of talking back to the radio.”
D.C. resident Gabi Kruks-Wisner said she disagrees with President George W. Bush’s approach to diplomacy and disarmament.
“It will destabilize the region and make it less safe for everyone, including America,” she said.
“We stand for positive energy for the support of the United Nations to make a decision,” Larson said.
Larson said she was concerned the money used for war will leave little money for domestic issues such as education, welfare and the homeless.
Although the theme of the day was “Women for peace,” it did not deter male participation. Most men involved said they were there to support the peace effort.
“We’re trying to avoid war,” protester Greg Reagle said.
James Moore had only one message for the president.
“Slow down, cowboy,” he said.
“We have no reason to go in(to Iraq),” Snyder said. “We should let the inspection work.”
Protesters gathered from across the country, coming from as far as Vermont, Minnesota, California and Texas. There were also international groups from Canada, France and Afghanistan.
This article appeared in the March 10, 2003 issue of the Hatchet.