People from various racial backgrounds and ages held signs and chanted last Saturday in downtown Los Angeles that they wanted an end to the ongoing war in Iraq.
Hundreds of people marched for two hours, having started on the corner of Broadway Street and Olympic Boulevard and concluding the march at the downtown Federal Building at 300 N. Los Angeles St.
Marchers received a pep talk by speakers from groups such as the Korean Americans for Peace, Youth and Student Answer and the Muslim Student Alliance West, which is comprised of Muslim groups from colleges, high schools and junior colleges throughout the West Coast.
“We, the Muslim community, are for truth. We, the Muslim community, are for justice, and we are here today to demand our government to end this war now,” said Farhad Noorzay, the president of Muslim Student Alliance West Coalition.
At the rally, rap group Rebels to the Grain performed anti-war songs from their CD “Stuck in the Trees,” such as “Revolution Jump Off,” “False Power” and “Freedom Taken.”
An orange truck carrying members of Answer Los Angeles, the Los Angles chapter of the Answer Coalition, led the way as several people with signs in hand began to march.
“Troops out now, troops out now” and “We won’t fight your racist war, Jews and students say no more” were a few of the chants that were accompanied by drumbeats.
Arturo Gonzales, who was standing outside of Furor USA, a clothing store at which he works, said he saw a man march down the street pushing a stroller. Tiny hands from the stroller held a sign that showed, “Stop the War Now.”
“I want the same thing that the people want,” Gonzales said. “I don’t know how the owner feels about us not getting so many customers, but he’s paying me, so it’s okay.”
“I don’t want war. I want peace,” said the owner of a jewelry store as he stood behind a glass counter, waiting for customers to come enter.
“(The rally) is good, but it’s bad for us. We don’t get any business. Nobody comes in and no busses come,” the jewelry store owner said.
A lot of people dressed up as characters to emphasize their anti-war sentiments.
Members of “World Can’t Wait: Drive out the Bush Regime” wore orange jump suits with black sacks covering their heads and faces.
They walked in a horizontal line during the march with their arms tied together with orange tape, and intermittently dropped to ground on their knees or lied on the concrete.
One man wore a papier-m?ch’eacute; mask of George W. Bush with moveable arms over his head. The right arm of the mask held a paper gun, which was labeled “Tools of the Empire.” The left arm of the mask held a paper missile, which was labeled “U.S.A.’s weapons of mass destruction, aimed at people who watched the march from the sidewalks.”
Members of ANSWER Los Angeles stood near trash cans throughout the marchers’ walking route, collecting donations to cover more than $20,000 spent on the rally.
“I don’t know exactly how many people are involved in the Answer Coalition, but it is nationwide,” said Giovanni, a member of ANSWER Los Angeles. “We are against crimes based on race and sex, and all other types of hate crimes, but today we are here to call an end to the war.”
Marchers conversed with one another and visited various booths, which offered anti-war fliers, brochures and T-shirts, once protesters arrived at the downtown Federal Building.
When the last group of marchers reached the destination, marchers participated in a symbolic “die-in,” falling to the ground and lying down for about two minutes, as the sounds of bombs and missiles roared from speakers.
A group of people held coffins covered by American flags, and an elderly woman held a young boy in her lap as she sat in her wheel chair, and they both pretended to be dead.
This was followed by a moment of silence.
As the rally came to a close, speakers including Juan Jose Gutierrez from the Latino Movement USA, Greg Akili of African Americans Against War and many people walked on the stage.
As stated by members of ANSWER Los Angeles, the goal of the rally was to turn the anti-war majority into “the biggest people’s movement the world has ever seen.”
Do you have more to say than a comment? Want any feedback from the writer? Story ideas? Click on The Gripevine.