[R-G] Re: NYTimes.com Article: Rally in Washington Is Said to Invigorate the Antiw...
DavidMcR at aol.com
DavidMcR at aol.com
Wed Oct 30 12:29:29 MST 2002
Rally in Washington Is Said to Invigorate the Antiwar Movement
October 30, 2002
By KATE ZERNIKE
Emboldened by a weekend antiwar protest in Washington that
organizers called the biggest since the days of the Vietnam War,
groups opposed to military action in Iraq said they were preparing a
wave of new demonstrations across the country in the next few weeks.
The demonstration on Saturday in Washington drew 100,000 by police
estimates and 200,000 by organizers', forming a two-mile wall of
marchers around the White House. The turnout startled even
organizers, who had taken out permits for 20,000 marchers. They
expected 30 buses, and were surprised by about 650, coming from as
far as Nebraska and Florida.
A companion demonstration in San Francisco attracted 42,000
protesters, city police there said, and smaller groups demonstrated
in other cities, including about 800 in Austin, Tex., and 2,500 in
"The rally was like a huge gust of wind into the sails of the
antiwar movement," said Brian Becker, an organizer of the Washington
protest. "Our goal was not simply to have a big demonstration, but
to give the movement confidence that it could prevail. The massive
turnout showed it's legitimate, and it's big."
Building on those demonstrations, a coalition of groups called
International Answer - short for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism
- is asking people to vote in a referendum called VoteNoWar.org,
which organizers hope will serve as a countervote to the
Congressional resolution in support of military action in Iraq.
The coalition, which has absorbed several smaller groups around the
country, is also planning another protest on Jan. 18 and 19 in
Washington, to coincide with the commemoration of the Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and the 12th anniversary of the
Persian Gulf war. Organizers are also planning what they call a
Grass Roots Peoples' Congress to publicize the results of the
Smaller groups that attended the demonstrations in San Francisco and
Washington said they were planning their own protests back home.
Protesters plan to march in New Orleans and Tampa, Fla., this
weekend; in Charleston, S.C., in mid-November; and again in San
Francisco on Nov. 22. A group in Louisiana is planning a peace walk
between Baton Rouge and New Orleans at the end of November, and the
National Council of Churches is discussing another rally in
Washington for Nov. 24.
MoveOn.org is conducting an online petition drive and has raised
about $2 million for candidates, including the late Senator Paul
Wellstone, who opposed a war in Iraq.
In California, college students are leading teach-ins against the
war at high schools. Richard Becker, an organizer with Answer in San
Francisco, said the group was setting up an emergency response plan
to accommodate a mass protest - complete with sound systems,
placards, the requisite permits and even portable toilets - on the
day United States troops enter Iraq.
"There is not going to be one speech or one demonstration, after
which everyone goes home," said Barbara Lubin, the founder of the
Middle East Children's Alliance in Berkeley, Calif. "This is a
movement against war, and it's building momentum."
Those who have been organizing and attending demonstrations for
several months said the swelling size of the protests showed how
much antiwar sentiment had increased as the threat of war
In San Francisco, a march on Sept. 6 drew 2,500 people, one two
weeks later, 6,000, and one on Oct. 6, 10,000.
"People are very emboldened right now," said Mike Zmolek, an
organizer with the National Network to Stop the War in Iraq. "We've
been in a financial crunch since we started - suddenly people are
sending checks out of nowhere."
Mr. Zmolek said his organization had attracted 100 new antiwar
groups across the country in the last three months.
The march in Washington was planned by International Answer, with
coordinators of local chapters working in more than two dozen cities
around the country. It attracted homemakers as well as college
students, seasoned activists and those who had never attended any
kind of political rally before.
"It was beautiful," said Merrill Chapman, 35, who called herself
"just a housewife" in Charleston, S.C. "I'm in a very conservative
town, and I feel like the lone voice. Being in Washington energized
me, by seeing I was not alone."
Ms. Chapman had never been to a protest before the demonstration in
Washington, but got involved after organizing a group called
Thinking People in Charleston. She is planning a rally for Nov. 16
in her city.
In Houston, Lois Wright, a 46-year-old saleswoman in a drapery
workroom, said she felt compelled to take the two-day bus ride to
Washington, because the Bush administration seemed "hellbent on
going to war."
"It's O.K. to do stuff in Houston, but nobody gets to hear about
it," she said. "I felt if we were right in their faces, they
couldn't ignore us."
Polls show that about 50 percent of Americans support sending ground
troops to Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Antiwar
organizers acknowledge some public support for military action, but
said that until now, the voices of those who do not support the
policy have not been heard.
"I think the president has considerable support," Mr. Zmolek said,
"but I think the nation is pretty divided on this."
Certainly, there is still debate. In Austin, the University of Texas
student government passed a resolution on Oct. 22 opposing an
attack, by a vote of 20 to 17. Some students seek to have that vote
overturned, saying it does not reflect the sentiment of the campus's
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