Not in Our Name – Los Angeles protest
The L.A. Not in Our Name protest went better than expected! I was hoping for maybe 5,000 people and we got closer to 10,000. Ron Kovic, of Born on the Fourth of July fame was the keynote speaker. I remember him from the Vietnam Veterans Against the War days. When Viet vets in wheelchairs started protesting the war – that was when public opinion began to shift against the war. No way the public could call them cowards afraid to fight… I’m glad he’s still around and still fiery.
Kevin McKeown, Mayor pro tem of Santa Monica and a Green gave a rousing speech detailing the opposition of the National Green Party to an Iraq War and called on Democrats in the audience to bombard their congressmembers with phone calls voicing their opposition. He ended with a chant “We’re not yellow / We’re just Green / We aren’t part of your war machine”!
Other speakers, some drumming, performance artist / poet Linda Albertano, and others performed. Then a march and mini-rally at the ROTC center, and back for more music and speakers.
The first band, Fanbelt, was truly kicking it out when the power was killed. The authorities played many annoying games with permits and power, and this appeared to be one more example. Another thing. At every other demonstration I’ve been to at this location, you could generally see several media helicopters filming us. Not this time. Just one military chopper and no media at all in the air. Apparently they’d been banned from flying in the area. What are they so scared of?
Because we had another event to go to, we missed long time activists Ed Asner and Casey Kasem, plus Sonali Kolhatkar from KPFK (after they got the power turned back on, that is). And what event could take us from the protest? Well it was another like-minded event, this one at the famed leftie Midnight Special bookstore in Santa Monica.
Editors Danny Goldberg & Robert Greenwald, artist Robbie Conal, Steve Earle and the Director of the ACLU of Southern California Ramona Ripston discussed IT’s A FREE COUNTRY: Personal Freedom in America After September 11. ‘This book bears witness to a precious truth of American life after the ugly catastrophe of September 11, 2001: The spirit of freedom is still alive in the face of panic-driven government policies’. – Cornell West.
In truth, what the book discusses IS what we were marching about, with the panelists being serious leftie heavyweights.
All in all, a great day, with a real sense of community and of something being born – something I felt at both the protest, and at the book discussion. Something IS happening. A new movement is emerging.
The protests happened in 22 cities today, with 40,000 in Central Park. This was just the opening move. There will be more.