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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

100,000 Protesters March on Washington to End the Conflict in Iraq

This photo shows one of the most polite signs seen at the September 15 protest.

Thousands from all over the country went to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15 to protest the war in Iraq. The protest, called just the “Sept. 15 March,” was organized by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, Iraq Veterans Against the War and CODEPINK.

The groups went to protest what organizers call the “illegal war” in Iraq. The day commenced with a rally outside of the White House. People from all walks of life, young and old, stood outside of an empty White House, as President Bush was at Camp David. The protesters were screaming anti-Bush sentiments and demanding an end to the conflict.

As the rally continued, a number of pro-war student demonstrators marched through, creating a larger scene. The protest continued with a number of speakers. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan urged people to “lay down our bodies on the line and say we’ve had enough, its time for students to shut down their campus […] it’s time to shut this city […] it’s time for us to show Congress that they need to represent we the people not the corporations […] not the war machine that kill our kids […] for profit.”

Members and leaders of the organizing groups also shared their insight during the protest.

“What we are doing here today is standing up,” ANSWER Coalition leader Adam Kokesh said, “and showing that we will not be intimidated, we will not succumb to their pressure we will stand up in defiance of any attempts to curtail our first amendment rights.”

Former Green Party candidate for President Ralph Nader spoke to the crowd about his and his political party’s feelings on the war.

“The war was launched on a platform, as we all know, of lies, deceptions and cover-ups,” Nader said. “…Violating our constitution, our treaties as we as our federal laws, repeatedly by Bush and Cheney […] 70 percent of people want out of Iraq, a majority, 2 to 1 want this regime ended as fast as possible […] 72 percent [of soldiers serving in Iraq] want [out] in 6 to 12 months, and that was a year and a half ago […] How many more do now?”

After the rally and the speakers, the march on the Capitol continued. Organizers claimed 100,000 people participated in the march while Fox News claimed only 5,000 took part. Along the road to the Capitol protesters carried signs, handed out flyers and sold anti-Bush merchandise. As the march continued, pro-war and anti-war demonstrators verbally and physically clashed.

Finally the protests, which broke through police barriers to get closer to the Capitol building, were met with fully equipped riot cops and bolted gates to stop them from entering the Capitol building.

The rally in front of the Capitol began peacefully enough with, according to organizers, 5,000 people laying down in civil disobedience representing the Iraqi and American people who have died since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq in what they called a “die-in.”

The arrests started as protesters jumped the barricade and rushed the Capitol. When the die-in ended, the protesters stood and continued their chants. As the rally went on and police from other departments were called in to give support to the Capitol Police, demonstrators tried to rush the gates but were sprayed with mace by riot police. Those who did make it over the barricades were arrested.

Reports indicate about 160 people were taken into police custody during the entire protest.