Saturday, April 29, 2006: Marching for Peace & Justice in New York City
An estimated 300,000 thousand anti-war protesters marched Saturday, April 29, 2006 through Manhattan to demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Cindy Sheehan, joined in the march along with Susan Sarandon and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. CODEPINK was a strong presence in this massive mobilization, saying YES to peace, justice, democracy, environmental, civil and human rights. We have had enough of the occupation of Iraq, the threat of military strikes against Iran, and the diversion of our resources away from the needs of people in this country into never-ending wars. Scroll below to see more photos!
"The New York Code Pink delegation was amazingly cool and had some great chants like 'Condi Condi Condi Rice, Your Policy Sucks But Your Shoes Are Nice'and 'We're Women, We're Marching, We're Not Out Shopping.' They were really energized and fun and pretty much energized our whole section of the rally."
She's at the front of the vigorous, dancing, chanting Code Pink contingent, all of whom wear something pink, including in some cases day-glo pink wigs. She's holding high a frilly, full-length pink slip on a pole topped by the sign, "Give Bush a Pink Slip." She herself wears a pink feathered hat and pink camo-style pants. ("We've done a lot of counter-recruiting actions.") She's Courtney Lee Adams, a 43 year-old musician and copyeditor, who first got involved with the group at the time of the Republican National Convention in New York.
"I was worried that this demonstration wasn't going to be well attended, so I'm relieved. I was at an event last night and a lot of people didn't even know this was happening, so I expected the worst.
"Maybe I'm crazy, but I feel encouraged. There's much more mainstream opposition out there than there was. I'm still immensely disappointed in the Democrats. I don't understand why they're not riding this momentum when it's so obviously out there. But to hell with them! Seriously, we're not waiting for them to act.
"In New York, Code Pink is very focused on pressuring Hillary Clinton. Bird-dogging her is what we call it. After all, she's our senator. We want to see the troops come home now, no permanent bases, true reconstruction, no invasion of Iran. And I'd like to see Bush impeached. There's another case where there isn't much support among Democrats in Congress, but there's lots of support for it out there. Isn't it strange, actually, that it seems like there's more opposition from old-fashioned conservative Republicans than liberal Democrats?"
"My Nephew Died for This?"
Like so many people on this brilliant day, she's wearing sunglasses. She stands behind the IVAW contingent, part of the startlingly large group of military families against the war that are leading off this demonstration. She's Missy Comley Beattie - she spells it out carefully for me - a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. "My nephew was killed on August 6, 2005 in al-Amariyah. He was a Marine."
She comes from red-state Kentucky, but now lives in New York. She's wearing a tiny gold peace sign around her neck and a Code Pink T-shirt. "I write like three articles a day. It's an obsession. I was told recently that I'm an embarrassment to my [Kentucky] community for my stance on the war. I won't tell you who said that. But I have my brother's support. It was his son who died. My mother's a former chair of the local Republican Party. Now, she's a screaming progressive. Actually, my mother tells me that things are beginning to change in Kentucky. She sees a lot more anti-Bush letters-to-the-editor in the papers than she used to.
"I think that people in the red states are increasingly opposed to Bush. But to be honest, I suspect it's the rising costs at the pump, not the human costs that are doing it. It's also that so many people just don't pay attention and the death rates are always submerged beneath the Ken- and Barbie-like TV anchors as they talk about the crime of the week. And keep in mind that Bush doesn't allow people to see the bodies come home.
"When my nephew was little we were close, but now I live here. I talked to him before he joined the Marines and urged him not to do so. Then I urged him to join something like the Coast Guard, but he was attracted to the bravado of the Marine Corps. He'd say to my father, 'Why settle for second best when you can be best?' I even tried to convince him to go AWOL.
"Cindy [Sheehan] and I were arrested on March 6, seven months to the day after my nephew died, and the reason I sat down with the others was this: My nephew actually went to Iraq because he thought he was fighting for our freedom. I never believed that, but I sat down because the police wouldn't even let us walk on the sidewalk to give our petition to the U.S. Mission to the UN. I thought: My nephew died for this? So I sat down, spent twenty-two hours in jail, and now here I am."
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CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. The name CODEPINK satirized the Bush Administration's color-coded, fear-mongering "security" alert system that has since been phased out. CODEPINK is a lively call for the people of the world to "wage peace." More...