Posted 5:30pm November 1
by Vanessa Maltin
U-WIRE Washington Bureau
In a peaceful demonstration Saturday, tens of thousands of protestors gathered at the Washington Monument, calling for an immediate end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Organized by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism and United for Peace and Justice, the rally brought together a diverse mix of people including veterans, military husbands and wives, high school and college students and families from across the country.
Stretching around the Mall, White House and Justice Department, fewer protesters than organizers originally expected, voiced complaints against the Bush administration, focusing primarily on the human and economic costs of the war. With demonstrations in more than two-dozen other cities including San Francisco and Paris, organizers said the day represented the restoration of the anti-war movement that has been scarcely noticed since the U.S. gained control of Baghdad.
Protestors also criticized Bush’s request for $87 billion for rebuilding and use of military force in Iraq, when the money could be used to help failing schools at home.
Democratic presidential candidate, Al Sharpton told the crowd, “Don’t give him 87 cents!”
Persian Gulf War veteran, Michael McPhearson, spoke on behalf of Veterans for Peace. He said the Bush administration has misled the nation throughout the war and that the dishonesty will lead to a loss of honor.
“No weapons have been found and more soldiers have died since the war ended,” McPhearson said. “Where is the honor Mr. Bush? Bring the troops home!”
With a sign reading, “An Occupation Should Be a Person’s Job NOT a Countries Suppression”, Katherine Fuchs, a senior political science and international development major at the University of Wisconsin rode a bus for 13 hours to show her disappointment in the Bush administration in the nation’s capitol.
“I think it is important for young people to show the government that they disagree with their politics,” Fuchs said. “If politicians see that a lot of people believe what they’re doing is wrong then maybe they’ll change.”
Fuchs said she was grateful that ANSWER provided transportation to D.C. from around the country so that those who might not otherwise be able to show their support in person could be standing strong on the National Mall. With a chuckle Fuchs added that she didn’t really see anything major coming out of the protest being that Bush was not in Washington to see the masses congregated practically on his back lawn. But she said that she was still glad she had made the trip.
Derek Fraser, a senior at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst said he came to Washington to make a difference.
“I am one more person who is aggravated with the war. But I think that even just one person with an opinion can make a difference today,” Fraser said.
Rallies to counteract the masses took place around the White House as well. D.C.’s chapter of Free Republic brought its members to show support for the remaining troops in Iraq. They called shame upon the anti-war protestors and said that peace instead of action brought the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
“People are so worried about making a stink that they forget to stop and remember why we are in this war,” said Jordan Gary, a junior at Fordham University. “It is about the freedom of Americans and giving that same freedom to the Iraqi people.”