As this blogger blogs, a large (nobody can say how big) peace procession is winding its way down Broadway to Foley Square with Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Cindy Sheehan at its head, organized labor as its backbone, and folks from Vermont and California in its midst. At 1 p.m and 10th Street, organizers were unable to provide a crowd estimate because some of the marchers had yet to set off.
Before the march kicked off, Al and Jesse were among more than a dozen speakers at a mini-rally/press conference on 17th Street. Susan Sarandon was there, too, along with Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg and just-outta-jail union leader Roger Toussaint. But Cindy (photo by Sarah Ferguson below) was clearly the star, and she framed the sense among the marchers that after three-plus years of demonstrating, the tide is turning their way. “We are not the French, we are mainstream America. Two-thirds of this country realize that George W. Bush lied to us and the troops need to come home,” she said. At one point Sheehan either misspoke and called the marchers “matriots,” or coined a new term for anti-war mothers. Still not a slick speaker (and that’s a good thing), Sheehan skillfully weaves together her grief and anger. She tells how she’d dreamt of her son the night before, of a scene when he was three and asking to go outside. Then she belts out: “No more Casey Sheehans who are condemned to an early grave because of the lies and the war crimes of this fascist government.”
Sharpton connected the Iraq war to Ground Zero a few blocks south, and was the only speaker to do so. Osama and company “are still at large when (Bush) has gone after the president of Iraq who had nothing to do with the attacks on this city,” the rev said. Jackson, a little subdued, made a sort of Just War Theory argument against the war. “There have been wars of necessity and wars of choice,” he said, naming the Civil War and WWII among the former and Grenada and Panama—and this one—among the latter. Also on Bush’s hit list, Jackson said, are Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran. “We can’t just declare war on the whole world.”
The prospect of “Iran: The Sequel” was a big theme of the day. Code Pink held a sign that read “Hands off Iran,” and another that renamed Sen. Barak Obama as “Obomba”, and one dude in the crowd held a placard saying, “Beware a Crazy Woman Who Wants to Bomb Iran!” featuring pictures of Senator Hillary. One might argue that attacking Iran seems crazy. “Well, the people governing us are crazy,” Sheehan shouted. “Don’t put anything past them. Stop them!”