Millions march for peace
About 100,000 people — more by some estimates — filled the east side of Manhattan on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon to let Bush know that the country is not united behind him in his drive to war. The crowd milled along mostly peacefully, except for a few scattered incidents, one involving horses. “Take your horses out of here, you c***suckers!” roared one bearded protesters after a phalanx of mounted police officers crossed 2nd Ave. going east. The mood was upbeat and even playful, despite the weather and the grim mission that brought so many out today.
Although the city denied the organizers the right to march on the United Nations, the police had closed off all the streets, forcing us to walk up Lexington, 3rd and 2nd avenues before hitting 69th St. and finally turning east where we could walk down 1st Ave. This resulting in three smaller marches uptown as protesters mainly ignored police warnings to stay on the sidewalk and instead spilled out onto the streets. Many grumbled that the cops were preventing people from getting to the rally, hoping to disrupt it. If that was the case, they failed, as instead of single long procession and rally on 1st Ave., they got the smaller marches previously mentioned, tangling the entire East Side.
[UPDATE: George over at Warblogging.com has a nice entry on the protest, and he is more effusive than I. As I said, I’m not reporting much on this as I was a participant rather than acting as a journalist. He saw a lot more police action than I did…]
I took pictures while I was there, but since I was there as a participant instead of an objective journalist, I won’t say much about this protest, instead pointing you to coverage by the Times and the Washington Post.
After the rally, the tension in the air that I’d been feeling — a sense of waiting for something to happen — seemed to have eased somewhat. The act of marching, of gathering in huge numbers against the powers in Washington and in other capitals, was an effective method of beating back the anxiety brought on by Orange Alerts and impending war. And no, the protests probably won’t halt the war, but they made us feel like we were doing something. They gave us a feeling of fighting back — against war, against Bush, against fear. It’s a much better feeling than buying plastic sheeting and duct tape and waiting for the boom.