A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
The April 20th Washington DC Protests
April 23, 2002
You probably won't see it on any of the major news media, but WHAT A DAY! We had a turn out of over 100,000!! I was there, and believe me, that's no exaggeration. There were a number of protests going on, but the largest two were at the Washington Memorial and on the Ellipse. The two bus loads of Mainers I was with started at the Washington Memorial protest organized by several groups, who were protesting the expanding war on terror, Bush policies in general, our loss of civil rights and outrage at the Israeli recent atrocities in Palestine. The group gathered on the Eclipse was predominantly a pro-Palestine rally, with HUGE numbers of American Palestinians and their sympathizers showing up. A number of us, including myself, checked out both rallies. (There was also a Freeper-sponsored conservative rally not far from the two big rallies, and you'll be pleased to hear that they had hardly any participants -- teehee. They had to keep referring to 'those people' gathered on the other side of the Washington Memorial as un-Americans to raise the spirits of their few troupes, but they certainly didn't gain any new followers. It was hysterical -- ah, their anger and their frustration that they were outnumbered by about 1000 to 1.)
Anyway, the bus loads of anti-administration protesters just kept coming. I don't think I've ever seen so many beautifully garbed Muslim women and men gathered in the States. No Burkas, of course! Just gorgeous head scarves and robes (sorry, I don't know the proper terminology for the flowing feminine outer garments) in every style, fabric and color. The enthusiasm at both of the rallies as various speakers addressed them was over the top. There were bands and street players and puppets and great signs. It was in the flavor of a street circus -- but a very serious one.
When the speakers were finished (about two o'clock), we joined forces to march from the Washington Monument, down Pennsylvania Avenue, to the Capitol. My group of Mainers, who had this fantastic wooden drum on wheels, that sent out gut wrenching booms, were fairly close to the beginning of the march route, although there were many groups in front of us. As we climbed the incline to the street, we looked behind us and saw the most incredible sight I've ever seen.
The WHOLE of the Washington Monument hill behind us was covered with oncoming marchers, carrying banners, waving flags. It was a huge carpet of people all bent on the same cause we were -- fighting against injustice, war and the policies of the Bush Administration. They covered the hill from one end to the other, without a blade of grass to be seen between them. I told those next to me to look back, and their astounded and overjoyed reaction was the same as mine. They couldn't believe the incredible number of participants in the march.
The marchers filled the street from sidewalk to sidewalk, often spilling off onto the sidewalks. The signs and banners were held high and waved. Drumbeats from our drum and others kept the rhythm; chants rolled through the crowd; others replaced those. I felt in sync with every other person marching, and I knew they felt in sync with me. We all had a common goal and a common cause, and we were all finally venting our angst at our unelected President and all the wrongs in the world that we've kept silent about too long. The march was SOLIDARITY all the way!
Native born Americans of all races marched side by side with Palestinian, Arab and other immigrants. We smiled at each other. We shouted each other's battle cries; we read each other's protest signs. We were evidence that there should be no hatred between races and cultures because we're all members of the human race.
And it was peaceful -- totally peaceful. The cops were there on the sidelines, but there were no barricades set up or riot gear in evidence -- so unlike the day of Bush's 'inauguration,' when there were concrete barriers on the streets, police in riot gear, and sharp shooters on every roof. My experiences with the police yesterday were the opposite of my experiences when I was in DC on Jan. 20, 2001 to protest Shrub's inauguration. Of course, Shrub was in Camp David yesterday, not on the streets of DC, so there was no chance he would have to confront the protesters personally, like he had to do at his 'inauguration.'
I was in the first quarter of the marchers, and I kept hearing bystanders commenting, "But they just keep coming and coming." Yup! That was how many marchers were there and how long the march went on. There were so many marchers that I lost sight of the Maine friend I was marching with in the crowd. When we finally gathered in the lower Mall opposite the Capitol, there were so many people gathered that it was impossible to see from one side of the crowd to the other. I'd lost my Maine group in the march. I was exhausted, hungry, thirsty. My feet hurt, and I couldn't identify one person I saw in the crowd around me. I listened for the distinctive resonating sound of the drum from Maine which had always let me locate my group in a crowd before, but there were a dozen drumbeats now -- from the stage, to several mid-eastern and other drumming groups scattered throughout this absolutely huge crowd. And the one thing I will say in criticism of the march organizers, there were no restaurants, food concessions, or water sellers in the immediate area of the Capitol Mall end of the march.
But it all ended well, and I don't regret a moment of my sore feet or hunger.
Let's keep fighting! The march yesterday energized me more than ever. Probably the corporate owned main media won't cover the march as it should be covered, but the more we hammer at the mainstream media's and other corporate-biased faults in their reporting, the better off we will be.
I'm writing this account of my experiences to BuzzFlash because I think BuzzFlash will publish it, while I think the mainstream media will only distort what actually happened during the march yesterday.
Hail all good ladies, fellows, and friends. Let us seek and tell the truth!
Cheers all, Jo Ann Simon
P.S. Hey, Anyone else who reads BuzzFlash and was there in DC, please contact me. Let's share notes. e-mail me at email@example.com.
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