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The anti-war demonstration in Seattle (USA)

The anti-war demonstration here in Seattle was large and quite spirited.

Most people I talked to felt it was maybe larger than the MLK march. Whereas the general consensus on the number of souls at the MLK march was about 15,000, I will go with the estimated crowd size of 20-25,000, as most often quoted in the press. However, IMC continues to state that there were 55,000. I do know this, during the march itself, the start of the line was on the south side of downtown while the end of the march was still at Seattle Center.

On my way to the march from downtown, I ran into a number of people making there way to the march. The buses were not an option as every one that passed was crammed with protesters (judging by the signs they displayed in the bus windows). I walked with a mother-daughter duo, with whom I enjoyed an interesting political conversation. At the demo I found it at times nearly impossible to navigate through the crowd to get from group to group. The speeches were greeted with great applause. The march started at around 12:30 and somewhere around 2:15 I found myself next to Westlake Center (smack downtown). At about 2:40 I had to leave, but there was no sign of the end of the march. However, about 30 minutes later, the Westlake Center area was clear of marchers.

There were a number of excellent signs and banners, chants and slogans. I wish I could remember but a few. Of course, sung over and over was, "All we are saying is give peace a chance." One person changed the lyrics and sang out, "All we are saying is give Bush to France." Many laughed. And there was, "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. George Bush has got to go!" or something like that, and "Not the bomb, drop Bush!" (something like that).

The crowd was made up of just about all segments of society: from babies to the elderly, all races, churches, commies, veggies and veterans. The only people visibly not there were the pro-Bush folk. They were up at the naval bases having their own insignificant demonstrations (which, unfortunately, got about as much air time here as did the mass anti-war demo).

Very impressive is the fact that high-school students have become very involved in the anti-war demonstration. Most of the anti-war work here in Seattle is being done on neighborhood bases. This is both good and bad.

On the good side, it could be stated that this means there isn't one organization doing most of the work, which organization might stigmatize the entire anti-war work (like has been done against ANSWER). So, it may tend to draw more people to demos, but also be able to carrying out continual work on a very local level. On the bad side, there weren't as many labor groupings as there really should be. That is, it would be good if the Teamsters, ILWU, IFCW, HERE, etc. were working within their organizations to promote anti-war work and to represent their organization at these marches. My union, for example, although against the war ended up not marching as a group but in various other organizations. I personally marched with OLAW (Organized Labor Against the War).

Given the level of opposition, it can only be hoped that anti-war work will continue and grow.

  Curtis Vaughan (Curtis Kirov)

 



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