got this from friend Sally Fisher in NY just now
& wanted to share it - Sally, incidentally, is
also producer of the Vagina Monologues.
Greetings from New York. I worked with United
For Peace & Justice on the program committee for
the March. Of course our program was not
actually a rally. Because we couldn't have the
park and refused to be shoved off onto the West
Side Highway where a coherrent rally would have
been impossible and phisically safe, we were left
with just a press conference, which was no small
We used it to our greatest advantage. It was a
powerful and moving press conference replete with
elected officails, familiar faces like Jesse
Jackson, Michael Moore, Danny Glover, Suhir
Hammad, Rosie Perez, Eve Ensler, other poets and
writers, actors, labor leaders, elected
officials, Families of both 9/11 victims and
soldiers who either died or are serving in Iraq,
and of course returned vets themselves. The lead
contingent was headed by these speakers and was
made up of representatives of all of the New York
and national antiwar/peace groups.
The press conference, our mini rally, was a
stirring event and was broadcast over WBAI, an
independant radio station, to the thousands of
radios we had asked marchers to bring with them.
WBAI even distributed little "one station" button
sized radios with ear sets until they ran out.
They broadcast interviews all day long
interspersed with music provided by musicians who
had come to be part of the protest.
And the message was loud, clear, strong and
passionate; spoken by each speaker from their
particular point of view and displayed across
rainbow flags which hung from windows across the
city and carried by marchers -- "The People Say
NO to the Bush Agenda" --
The march itself was unusual in its charachter.
Perhaps it was that it had so very much
character. It was a wildly creative crowd of a
half million or so, (even the officials finally
admitted to 400,000), and it was visible in what
they wore, the signs they bore and the banners
they carried. But more than anything, what set
the march apart from most was the energy of the
day. There was the appropriate amount of anger,
certainly the sadness of the pictures of the dead
held by loved ones, and the sight of a thousand
coffins draped in American flags was chilling,
but for the most part it was jubilant.
In so many ways, but for the pockets of effective
rage and resistance, it was as if the sea of
marchers had been transformed into a walking,
chanting, rythmic festival. I also want to
credit the police for being more witness to what
was happening than anything else. I think they
were stunned by our numbers, cheer and were on
I think that having gone through all of thre
macinations of getting permits, going to court,
losing our fights with the city, the park
district and ultimately the bush administration,
which was orchestrating the barriers we faced,
the people were determined not to do what they
wanted us to do, which was stay away in droves,
and to become so angry and frustrated that there
would be violence.
We provided them with neither. The day was
orderly, but for a few incidents, peaceful and
unmistakeably a gigantic statement that landed on
the front pages of all the New York papers and
those across the country. There was deep and
wide coverage in all forms of media. And we
accomplished our goal, which was to get our
message out there and to steal the headlines away
from the opening of the republican convention.
Even on the opening night, outlets like CNN were
showing the amazing overhead photos of the march
which stretched for two miles and took six hours
for the last contingent to pass the dispersal
I say Bravo, Bravo, Bravo to United For Peace &
Justice and to Leslie Cagan, its director, who
more than anyone I know, knows how to roll with
the punches and also knows how to accept victory.
But more importantly, Bravo to everyone who
would not be frightened away from their right to
peaceful protest and to say NO MORE BUSH!
please go to: http://dianelent.com
photographs from UFPJ official photographer Diane
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