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Washingtonians March Against the War: A View From the Grassroots
By Nadrat Siddique

Over a thousand people marched in Washington, D.C. on Saturday (March 22) as part of an emergency protest called at extremely short notice by the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition. At the start of the protest, park police penned in the protestors for a short while, within a barricaded area near the White House, not allowing people to leave, nor the march to proceed. Many of us realized that this was part of an intimidation tactic used to deter anti-war protestors from future protest actions. Nevertheless, the protest remained peaceful, and finally the predominantly youthful, ethnically diverse crowd was permitted to march.


I marched along with a fiery black woman named Leila, from WOL (one of D.C.’s few independent radio stations) and her young son, Antony. Leila had been part of the civil disobedience action on Thursday in which Daniel Ellsberg (recall him from the Pentagon Papers) and many others had taken part. I asked her about her arrest, and the petite woman with long braids described how she’d laid down in the middle of the road to block traffic; ten to twelve police officers had surrounded her before she was lifted bodily off the roadway and into the police vehicle. Leila said that she probably wouldn’t do any more civil disobedience for a while, as she couldn’t afford the $200 it had cost to get out, but that she would continue marching against the war. I told her I admired her for the courage of her convictions.


Marching with Leila and I was a Mixteca Indian from the Indigenous Nations Network. He was a Vietnam veteran and on crutches. As police herded us away from the White House area uptown (toward Adams Morgan), he exhibited a determination that was inspiring, leading anti-war chants and keeping up with us for at least twenty-five city blocks, despite being in great pain (he ordinarily used a wheel chair and not crutches), which he shrugged off, saying he would take some painkillers when he got home.

As we marched through the neighborhoods, the level of support for the anti-war effort by long disenfranchised D.C. residents was evident. Although most just watched and gave us the thumbs up signal or the peace sign, some joined the march as it passed; others had hung anti-war banners and flags from their balconies. "Whose streets? Our streets" we chanted as we passed a massive police blockade.


One young black man who had just gotten off work from a nearby gym, where he was a personal trainer, joined us. He told me in great detail about the composition of the Bush cabinet (oil men, Zionists, and Zionist oil men), as well as about the meetings between the Taliban, the Bush administration, and Unocal reps in Texas, where the Taliban declined to sign over drilling rights to Unocal, precipitating the U.S. bombing of that country. Thus the level of awareness of ordinary District residents was evident.


Chants ranged from "The people united will stop this war," and "Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation." In addition to the standard signs against the war, protestors carried signs saying "Impeach Bush," "George Bush does not speak for me," "Iraqi Children are not Terrorists," and "U.S., Israel–hands off Iraq." This last was my creation, and I carried it proudly, in the awareness that from start to finish, this war–whose aim is to ensure complete hegemony of the zionist entity in the region--is a continuation of Israel’s attack on Iraq, which began with its outright bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor and continues today in the form of the current assault spearheaded by the zionists like Richard Perle, who persist in their vitriol against Iraq even despite CIA and MI-6 recommendations against such a war.


As the march turned and headed back toward the White House, all of a sudden pro-Palestinian chants broke out: "Long live Palestine, long live the Intifada!" It was young American protesters, not Palestinians, who had started this chant, evidently realizing the link between the assault on Iraq and the injustice against the Palestinians.

Finally the march arrived back at the White House, where rallies continued until sundown.

U.S., Israel–hands off Iraq!

2003-03-27 Thu 10:17ct