Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Peace march on Washington D.C.

Walking around the corner from the subway exit, it was shockingly easy to see that the police had no problem making their presence known. There were officers in full riot gear, on Rebel motorcycles, horses, and Smith and Wesson bicycles surrounding the large mass of people huddling near the stage. The group listened to various speakers from around the country express dissent about what they considered the United States’ aggressive involvement in the war with Iraq.

Walking around the perimeter of the encampment, which was about two blocks long and one wide, were a variety of people passing out pamphlets promoting various causes which fit under the umbrella term “peace movement.” Distributors moving through the crowd stopped to listen to the statement of an American family expressing their sorrow over the death of their daughter. She was purposefully run over by an Israeli bulldozer for trying to get in the way of a house that was scheduled to be demolished. The person reading the statement, a friend of the deceased, wore the same type of reflective orange shirt that her friend was wearing when she was crushed.

Walking back away from the stage, the crowd thinned and then grew again. This group crowded around a drum circle and the Black Block, a group of radical anarchists identified by their black hooded jackets and bandanas over their faces. They were huddled around a pair of people in the center, and those on the outskirts would occasionally look out into the crowd like gazelles watching for a lion.

Soon the group broke up and two members climbed a light post to duct-tape a black flag onto its top. The small black hole was countered by a circle of people dancing and singing anti-war political slogans during momentary breaks of music. The youth of the peace movement had attracted some of the veterans’ ears and a few of them watched the revelry wistfully.

The last speaker on stage announced that it was now time for the march to start. Soon the street was filled with a large mass, chanting and waving signs that promoted peace and decried Bush. More people flooded in from other streets to fill up the larger Pennsylvania Avenue. Call-and-response chants affirming that this was true democracy echoed on the Fox News and Halliburton offices, along with altered hip-hop songs such as “Move Bush, Get out Iraq, Get out Iraq Bush, Get out Iraq.”

Outside the Washington Post office an organization (most likely the Post themselves, given they already had barricades and security guards surrounding them) got a group of pro-war rabble-rousers to wave pro-Bush placards. The six or so people hollered, but the thousands of war protestors booed and overpowered their voices.

About thirty feet from the Post, someone on stilts, dressed as France’s gift, Lady Liberty, spoke with one of the war supporters. Using the wood on his sign as a crutch, the two had a peaceful discussion about their beliefs. While one couldn’t see or hear which way the discourse went, both of them smiled, even the war supporter, despite having to cover his eyes while looking up to Liberty because of the light.

The march continued maneuvering around downtown D.C., past the Bush-occupied White House. Eventually, people rode busses and trains back to wherever they came from. Flyers for the next march, one week away in New York, were distributed to the people getting ready to leave.

The group that I had come with was hungry and tired, so we went to a corner diner that was underground and ordered some burgers and the advertised “freedom fries.” When I saw it on TV, a part of me had hoped that the new name for French fries was an out-of-control joke, but here was the proof, staring in front of me – freedom fries.

Despite the lack of news coverage of the peace rally, which event coordinators have come to expect given the wartime mentality of the media, there was no doubt that the march was a success. It brought people together from across the country, to show that they are not alone in their convictions.

Unfortunately, most of the marchers were seasoned veterans held over from the Vietnam era. This means that the message they promote either isn’t reaching the youth of the nation, or that the case isn’t strong enough. A third and more frightening possibility is that in the age of instantaneous updates, they no longer feel empowered to change anything and have in turn limited their worldview so that it only includes the small space surrounding their daily lives.

While walking down the streets after the peace marchers had left, the thought hit me that the people who made the decisions to fight this war were the same people who walked down these streets during the regular workweek. I wasn’t just thinking of the congressmen and senators, but all of the other people who dissented without action, which is to say, assented to the war. This was freedom that we as Americans have that some people are too afraid to claim.

The trip was a very long and arduous one. I spent a total of 30 hours driving there and back, but I had the pleasure of having a good friend with me, which made it bearable. We had such a good time meeting new people with similar beliefs and seeing various attractions that plans were made to back up to Baltimore, a short 30 miles from downtown Washington D.C., where we stayed with a friend, to enjoy the charm the area has. We planned on going both for our own pleasure and for the next rally that surely and unfortunately will happen before the end of Bush’s elected term.

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