Atlanta Peace Activists Storm DC

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Photographs by Al Viola

 

(APN) WASHINGTON, DC — Hundreds of Metro Atlantans traveled to Washington, DC, last weekend to join an estimated 500,000 others for a march and rally on January 27, 2007, to end the US Invasion of Iraq and bring the troops home now.

The Saturday rally and march was sponsored by United for Peace and Justice. Speakers included US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Jane Fonda, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Ann Wright, and the parents of Lt. Watada (who is the first officer to refuse to deploy in the US Invasion of Iraq).

Two buses went up from Atlanta, about 30 people took the train, and dozens either drove or flew up separately.

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Photographs by Al Viola

The turnout at the protest showed how public opposition against the Invasion and Occupation continues to grow, and how many Atlanta peace activists are concerned about a possible US Invasion of Iran.

The timing was important because US Congress is considering Bush’s proposed escalation of troops and supplemental funding request for the Invasion. With so many new Democratic Members of US Congress now in office, many activists believe some of them could use a little nudge.

Local activist, Randy Aranov, chaperoned a group of 25 students from The Paideia School who decided to go after they attended a talk by the Combatants for Peace. The students traveled by train, and “people were getting on the train all the way from Atlanta to DC,” Aranov told Atlanta Progressive News. Most of the students were of high school age, although Paideia is K-12.

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Photographs by Al Viola

The students stayed through Monday to meet with their Members of US Congress to ask them to de-fund the war and to stop the escalation of troops Bush has requested. Over a thousand people from all over the country were expected to stay for the day to lobby Congress.

“There are 500,000 people here, and that is a conservative estimate,” Gloria Tatum, local activist, said.  “From my experience, this is the biggest demonstration since the January 2003 march before the start of the war.” There seem to be many more young people this time, Tatum said.

Tatum traveled on one of two buses chartered by the Atlanta International Action Center (IAC) and the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. There were 110 people altogether on both buses; one was full of students, many of them first time demonstrators.  “The other bus was full of us old people,” Tatum said.

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Photographs by Al Viola

At the rally, Jane Fonda said this was her first anti-war rally in 34 years.

Fonda, representing Atlanta, spoke to the crowd before the march began. She thanked the crowd for having “the courage to stand up to this mean-spirited and vengeful Administration.”

“Your ongoing commitment to end this war allows people in other parts of the world to remain hopeful America has the stuff to become again the country that they can love and respect. I especially want to thank and acknowledge the service men and women in the military, and the military families, and Gold Star mothers that are here,” Fonda said.

“A lot of press people have been asking me today, what’s the difference between now and during the Vietnam War, and I’ll tell you one huge difference: it took six years for Vietnam veterans, military families to come out against that war. It has happened now within three years of this war. Their presence here is crucial and we should acknowledge their courage.”

“I haven’t spoken in an Anti-war Rally in thirty-four years because I have been afraid… the lies that have been, and continue to be spread, about me and the war… would be used to hurt this new Anti-war Movement. But silence is no longer an option,” Fonda said, appearing on stage with her daughter and two grandchildren. Fonda introduced them, and said “I’m proud they are here, but I’m so sad we still have to do this, that we did not learn the lessons from the Vietnam War.”

Deborah “DC” Cornelius of Decatur–who often protests as part of a Bush and Cheney Puppet Show–took her 18 month-old nephew.

“He’s wearing a shirt that says NO DRAFT! NO WAY!” Cornelius said.

There was a noticeable difference in this demonstration from previous Anti-war protests in Washington, DC. “It is more serious than previous demonstrations, more somber. People are not messing around anymore. It’s time to stop the madness,” Cornelius remarked.

Cornelius also reported that Lt. Watada’s step-mother had to be rushed to the hospital after apparently suffering a stroke.

“The march impressed and excited first-timers who spanned the age division and reinforced and/or re-energized those who first protested war during the Vietnam Anti-war era,” Dianne Mathiowetz, Atlanta IAC activist, wrote in an email to Atlanta Progressive News.

“There were concerned people who fell in the 25-50 age bracket at the March and we did have some on the buses… There were about 40 or more college age students on the two buses plus some young workers. Their presence showed where the new leadership was coming from,” Mathiowetz wrote.

Another rally in DC is scheduled for March 17, 2007, the fourth anniversary of the US Invasion of Iraq. Mathiowetz and others have already signed up many of the young activists to attend.

About the author:

Susan Keith is a Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at susan@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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