“Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot”
The above was one of the many great signs I saw at the S.F. Peace rally yesterday!
During the early days of the civil rights marches, Martin Luther King was asked, what can we do about the media ignoring us. His reply was, Make the demonstrations so large they can no longer be ignored. I believe that has now happened with the peace movement. The Saurday peace rallies (in 30+ countries) made front page news across the planet.
The crowd was like looking at America. All races, all colors, all ages. Rich and poor. Suburban moms next to punks next to Native Americans.
A politically moderate friend went to her first protest in L.A. last week. Yesterday she marched in S.F. She emails, “I came in uniform (black business suit & pearls, hair up in bun, etc.) since I thought it would make a stronger statement — I met a man also in a business suit who pointed out a guy in leather and spikey hair & said ‘I thought if *he* could come in costume, I could too.’ ” (P.S. Her alter ego is at Miss Monica, or maybe the hair in a bun is the alter ego, hmm.)
Most of the speakers and performers in S.F. were women, and I think ANSWER deliberately made an effort to tone down the rhetoric a bit as a larger more mainstream crowd joins the peace movement. Not that fire-breathing radicals weren’t on the podium, just that the mix was varied and fun. I was a backstage monitor and also helped on crowd control at the front of the march. We nicely asked people to get off the street as the main banners came though. This is primarily done so mass media can get photos of the lead of the parade coming through, something that can’t happen if thousands get in front of the main banners.
I’ve had a hand in organizing three antiwar rallies in the past several months. People can get upset if their group didn’t get a speaker onstage. Some thoughts. a) One excellent way to get a speaker onstage is to make sure your group volunteers with the coalition organizing the event. Then they will know and presumably trust you. b) ANSWER D.C. reported that 1,200 people wanted to speak yesterday! So, be aware there are way more excellent speakers than there is time for. c) An absolute foolproof way to get your people as speakers is to organize your own event!
The next big national protest will be Feb. 15. Mass marches planned so far in N.Y.C. and S.F. , with a big “Peace on the Beach” in Santa Moncia. Lots more too, I’m sure. These are being organized by United for Peace.
(Photo by Michael Mitchell)