Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

News :: [none]

Chicago Joins D.C. Anti-War Protest of Tens of Thousands

CHICAGO and WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 25-26 (IMC) - Hundreds of Chicago anti-war protestors joined tens of thousands of protestors in Washington, D.C., encircling the White House and sending clear messages of dissent to the Bush Administration and its plans to bomb and invade Iraq.
In the fading light of a cloudy late afternoon scores of travelling protestors swamp a thin lawn in front of the School of the Art Institute. CBS and FOX camera crews interiew Bill Massey, one of the International ANSWER coalition organizers. The CBS reporter interviews Primeridian, a political rap group comprised of two college-aged black musicians.

"We have no problem with the other people on our [bus] ride," says one. "There are bigger things going on. People of color were there [in DC] for the '60s civil rights movement. We use hip-hop to express ourselves. This is definitely about justice. Our style is hip-hop, acid -- we raise consciousness and bring soul to the event."

"We need to get people out to vote," says Kris Lang, 48, a white woman who associates herself with ANSWER, True Majority,, and Not In Our Name. "Dick Durbin voted no on the war resolution, but Blagojevich voted for the war. And Governor Ryan voted for the war, too. I think pressure on Congress can make a difference. We cannot allow an unprovoked war on Iraq because that would set a precedent. Other countries could then say the same thing about the US. And why Saddam Hussein? Why not Idi Amin in the past? Or Duvalier? Cheney is with the Carlyle Group, and they have been connected to Osama bin Laden through their business dealings."

Lang related that she hasn't been to DC since 1971, when, at the time, she protested with older people against the Vietnam War.

"I'm not afraid. I prefer not to be arrested or beaten up. At some point you have to stand up for what you believe in. Among the people I've talked to, some say, 'Right on, right on,' but others say, 'Oh, but then the government can take pictures of you with their satellites.'"

Lang believes that in the current political climate it's politically incorrect to stand up for peace, claiming instead that it's actually very patriotic.

"I'm more in the tradition of Thomas Paine," says Lang, capping up her views.

As the sky darkens people stand around in clusters with occasional herding toward one bus or another as ticket-number blocks are called out by coordinators. A tallish white man in a flannel shirt and cloth gloves holds a wide homemade sign prominently above his head, pacing the length of the buses. The sign reads "Wellstone Hero," referring to the anti-war Democrat senator who died hours prior in a plane crash.

A group of 6 bicycle police officers in yellow and blue rainjackets talk among themselves at the south end of the sidewalk. Nearby a man stands curbside holding a Liberate Iraq sign toward traffic while a trio of women talk as one holds a black flag high up on a scrapwood stick.

"Twelve-fifty to thirteen-oh-one," yells Pete Kimball, an organizer with the International Action Center and International ANSWER Coalition. As people spring up to rush in the direction he's going he adds, "No point in hurrying -- you're not getting on till I get there!" to a smattering of chuckles.

The sidewalk empties as buses fill and placards stack to make flat piles in the buses' underside luggage compartments.

"This is going to be a big demo," says Kimball to boarders on one bus. "My brother is going to be there and he never goes to anything. People from many backgrounds will be there, of all ages, ethnicities and politics. People may have many disagreements, but we're together on what we're against. Trips like this are always an adventure. It involves some sacrifice, sitting on a bus. Quoting Bob Bosse [of the 8th Day Ceter for Justice], the only way they can win is if they get more sacrifice from those who want to do [the war] -- those who go to Kuwait knowing that they want to kill you -- than those who are against the war. The pay isn't enough. They get people to believe in America."

In D.C. one protestor fresh off a bus explained his reasons for making the trip from Chicago.

"I saw a documentary on Free Speech TV called 'Hello From Missile Street,'" says the 30-ish black man who goes by the name of Lemmon. "It showed a 1-year-old baby in an Iraqi hospital suffering from an asthma attack. A doctor was trying to help the baby -- he set up an oxygen tent and then stuck a tube in the baby's nose. 'We're out of oxygen,' said the doctor. 'We have no oxygen because of your embargo.' The baby died very slowly. If you have any blood in you you'd be pissed off that the embargo doesn't let babies live. I can't underestimate greed and evil," says Lemmon. "They'll continue the embargo if it's good for these guys."

Clumps of almost all student-aged, Caucasian demonstrators fill the pathways criss-crossing the park near the Vietnam Memorial. Many carry pre-printed signs that say No War and show a sepia-toned picture of a little girl's downturned face, presumably an Iraqi child. A 60-ish white woman holds up a copy of Revolutionary Worker as she reads aloud a Not In Our Name statement to a handful of demonstrators.

A few steps away people peruse a seller's toteboard of peace buttons. He wears a Disabled Veterans cap and calls himself a capitalist, readily admitting that he does not agree with the message of the buttons he's selling. In hushed tones he relates that he agrees with Israel's pre-emptive strikes against Palestinians.

A 50-something white woman walks with her husband toward the stage, holding up a Vietnam Veteran Against the War sign. She served as a nurse in the Vietnam War and testifies to the carnage she's seen and the futility of war. At the same time she thinks that the US needs to do something about Saddam Hussein.

Emmanuel Perry, a homeless black man, picks up where she leaves off, directly relating that veterans of the Gulf War, like himself, receive practically no assistance from the US government after their tour of duty. He cites a widespread lack of adequate schooling, job training, housing, work opportunities and health care for those who served in the Persian Gulf and may currently be experiencing symptoms of exposure to depleted uranium and chemical agents while on duty there.

Placards in the vicinity read Mediators Not Soldiers and There's No Military Solution. A call for volunteers emanates from concert-sized speakers to either side of the stage, followed by the rappers of Primeridian who lay down anti-war lyrics in a Roots-style rap. The muted demonstrators immediately gravitate toward the music as placards in front of the stage gently bounce up and down to the rhythm.

Many signs throughout the protest bear the messages of Regime Change Begins At Home and Start Seeing Iraqi Children. Money For Jobs Not War reads one sign. Another, a hand-painted sign, reads NO King George, with a crown atop the letter O. One features a photo of Bush wearing a turban and reads Talibans For Bush. Another says Marina de los Estados Unidos Fuera de Vieques.

Various speakers proceed to address the crowd on a variety of anti-war and peace issues. Speeches continue for hours throughout the assemblies of march contingents which kick off at 2 pm.

One starting point, at Constitution and 17th, features men and women of an all-black International Longshoremen Workers Union Local 10 Drill Team in shiny black union jackets and white caps holding polished-steel cargo hand-hooks and stepping in formation, producing clacking noises on the pavement with tap-dance-like shoes. Their banner reads An Injury To One Is An Injury To All. International ANSWER security people converse with police personnel and tell people to remain on the sidewalks until the march gets started. A broad line of Arab youth wait further back, their torsos covered by a wide ANSWER banner and another one, hand-painted, of red, blue and green lettering that reads Muslim Students For Peace Not War. Just behind their line sits a hefty, railed platform truck sporting two large public address bullhorns with attendant protestors. Eleven horse-mounted officers also wait, forming a line on the left edge of the street.

Further back is a Korean drumming troupe in loose-fitting uniforms of white cotton pants and either shiny-blue vests or black tops with baggy arm sleeves of wide red, yellow and blue stripes. They all wear red headscarves or red headbands and strike hourglass-shaped drums and hand-covering cymbals. White vertical banners with red-triangle-ragged edges are held high and feature tiny white flags on top with the shape of the Korean pennisula in light blue. One banner reads Koreans Against War On Iraq, Congress for Korean Reunification. Another reads US Troops Out Of Korea.

A youngish Arab organizer traips quickly through the crowd, against the current, yelling, "When I say 'Fuck the,' you say 'War.' Fuck the,"

"War," respond several.

"Fuck the"


Fellow Conservatives, Wake Up! Will You Send *Your* Children To Kill And Die For Oil, Israel, And Global Government?!, reads a wide banner on one side. One sign shows a Bush face with the text Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Armageddon.

The march begins precisely at 2:00 pm to cheers and a start-up chant of "No blood for oil / US off Iraqi soil," followed by, "Tell the truth / Stop the lies / Iraqi children / Don't have to die." Demonstrators are remarkably quiet, leaving the riders on the platform truck to yell out slogans through the bullhorns.

"They've threatened Iraq / By the hour / What do we do / Fight the power!"

"George Bush / You can't hide / We've charged you / With genocide."

"Money for (jobs)(housing)(schools) / Not for war."

"Hey, hey / Ho, ho / Attack Iraq / We say no."

The truck is held up at 18th and Constitution and people mill around in the block-long space in front of the truck. Eventually greater numbers of people filter into the space and mass up at 17th. While most are Caucasian there are significant numbers of blacks, Arabs and other people of color who silently funnel down 17th toward E Street. Wellstone King, Gandhi Are Here, reads one sign. Another says Down With The Republi-crats, Build A Workers Party. A police car is blocked, despite its honking, as numbers stream onto E Street, toward the White House. One man's t-shirt shows an American flag on the back with the text, Pull Israel Out Of The West Bank. Some marchers gather a voice, briefly shouting, "Patriotic peace."

Kept off the street by concrete barricades and the presence of city officers and Park Police, the loudest sound is that of grass brushing underfoot. Two rows of chain link fences stand in front of the White House grounds' wrought-iron fence, except for a long section directly in front of the mansion. A couple of Minnesotan activists walk counter to the crowd's flow, breaking the silence.

"Now's the time to say something!" one exclaims.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho / Bush's war has got to go," is picked up by some marchers. The couple continues past, holding a plain piece of cardboard on a tree branch that reads Bush Killed Wellstone.

"No blood for oil," chants a few. Officers in front of the grounds' fence hold out long, blonde batons horizontally in front of them. Marchers walk steadily down E Street, where a small group stops around the corner, on 15th, in front of a line of 12 officers stretched across the width of the street. Some teens with the Posse for Peace dance as one beats out a rhythm on an empty 5-gallon plastic water bottle.

After a few minutes one of the officers wearing a riot helmet approaches a marcher to inform her that he will be removing the other officers so that the marchers may proceed.

"Drop Bush, not bombs," shout a cluster of women as the marchers start up. They direct their chanting to a few people leaning out of windows at the Hotel Washington, who mostly look on, wih a couple of them smiling and clapping along.

"1 - 2 - 3 - 4 / We don't want your dirty war / 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 / We will not participate."

Past H and Madison the small group is headed towards the main group of marchers with the ANSWER truck. The small group is blocked by a stationary cop car, 9 motorcycles, and an officer in full riot gear. The first approach from the oncoming marchers is a man who glides past on rollerblades, wearing a molded Bush mask with stumpy red devil horns and a long black robe with full-sized black wings on his back.

Condoleezza Rice Is Not My Sister, reads a sign held up by a black woman wearing a Palestinian scarf wrapped around her head. The police presence backs out as the main marchers flood in, reversing the smaller group's course.

"No justice, no peace / US out of the Middle East."

"George Bush, we know you / Your daddy was a killer, too."

"Fuck America," shouts a Vietnam War veteran, spurring a response from a white woman marcher.

"Then leave it!" she exclaims back.

You don't know -- fuck you," he retorts. "I'm of the working class. Burn this country to the ground," he forcefully yells back as the woman moves away.

"Our Streets," reads black spraypaint on the sidewalk nearby.

Free Mumia And All Political Prisoners, reads one sign. Another says, Dykes For Peace, with a peace sign replacing the O.

"A people, united / Will never be defeated."

Two 20-ish black men march side-by-side with their right fists extended into the air, Black-Panther style.

"Your attention, Mr. Bush," comes a statement from the truck. "The White House is surrounded. We have you surrounded. Come out with your hands up. You might as well give up!"

Marchers respond by laughing briefly before picking up more chants.

"Hey, hey / Ho, ho / Attack Iraq / We say no."

"Bush lied / Iraqi children died."

"1 - 2 - 3 - 4 / We don't want this oil war / 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 / We will not cooperate."

"Not a nickel / Not a dime / Israel out of Palestine."

"Free, free, Palestine."

Stop Bush's Nuclear Terror, reads one sign.

"From Palestine / To Iraq / Beat the US war drive back."

"No justice / No peace / US out of the Middle East."

On Constitution Ave. a cordon of ANSWER security people fan out in front of the main banners, defining a space. A few Muslims to one side repeatedly call out "Allah Akbar."

"Hey, Bush, just face it / This war is racist."

"Say, who's gon-na stop the war? / Yes, we're gonna stop the war!"

Marchers stream onto 17th, after a police choke-point is released, possibly revolving back around to the White House area.

One group of five has a position staked out on the corner, dressed in formal evening wear. "Mya Cash," of the Billionaires for Bush and Gore, plays to passers-by, saying that they have Congress in their pocket, as seen by a slip of paper reading "Congress" in the shirt pocket of a woman dressed as a rich man, complete with a bloated belly stuffed into a tuxedo, and Hitler-esque moustache.

Signs attached to a bag read, Smart Bombs = Smart Profits, and The World Is Our Gas Station.

"Darling, we are the Billionaires for Bush and Gore. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Billionaires for Bush and Bloomberg, in New York City. We are here today with a simple message for these unwashed, pinko, commie propagandst viewers, and that message is..."

"Go home," say the group in chorus.

Cash continues, "No one wants to hear from their unpatriotic, un-American points of view. And, as a billionaire, and especially as a media mogul -- 'cause that is the industry I repesent -- my name is Mya Cash. I'm here to remind everyone that the nightly news is brought to them by Mya Cash. And as a media mogul in charge of, and controlling, approximately 90 percent of all the news outlets, print and broadcast, through which Americans get their information, it is my duty to suppress dissent like this, to make sure that their voices remain as marginal as possible, as marginal as they are--"

"And we're doing a pretty good job," says the pot-bellied "billionaire."

"Absolutely," continues Cash. "Now 90 percent ownership of media companies is not enough...."


"But it's a good start."


"Now, the reason we would like people to go home today, is, we're actually very interested in their well-being."

"We are."

"We know that they will just be shooting themselves in the foot if they start complaining about tax breaks for the rich, and corporate welfare, and if they start protesting war, because war is so profitable, as are tax breaks, and corporate welfare, to the rich. And if they continue to invest in the beauty of the free market, if they work really hard at their six-dollar-and-fifty-cents-an-hour jobs, for thirty or forty years, perhaps they, too, can be rich, and then they'll just be crying about how they protested big money because, you know, it'll just be taking money out of their own mouths when they're eighty. We care about them in the long run, and we know that the billionaires among us -- few as we are -- we are an elite club, of course -- are profiting greatly from this war, and have been since the early '90s. The big lie that we've been promoting in our corporate media outlets is that we ever stopped bombing Iraq -- in fact, we've been bombing to the lucrative, lucrative benefit of oil-industry corporations -- we've been bombing for ten years."



Account Login

Media Centers


This site made manifest by dadaIMC software