77°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Protesters Rally Against War in NYC

Protesters Rally Against War in NYC

One reason pacifists hate war is because they have to wake up so early to protest against it.

It’s far too early to hear the alarm clock that wakes them up on a Saturday. It’s much too cold to look down at the white snow and black ice gracing their path to the T. And it’s definitely too early to catch a six o’clock bus to New York City. But they get on that bus because they know that boarding means more sleep. It makes no sense, but neither does war.

“I’m not saying that I expect all nations to stay away from war forever–I think that at some point there may be an invasion of Iraq no matter what we do,” says John Vogelor, a junior at Eastern Nazarene College, Quincy. Vogelor, along with friend and schoolmate John White, participated in the NYC anti-war protest. “We just want to bring a moral voice to this debate, to cause people to second-guess war, to ask if there are any other options–and only when all of those are exhausted, when there’s nothing else we can do [should war be considered]”.

The Feb. 15th event was organized by United for Peace & Justice (UFP). According to their website, the UFP “is a new national campaign that brings together a broad range of organizations throughout the United States to help coordinate our work against a U.S. war on Iraq”. Various speakers at the rally included Archbishop Desmond Tutu and actors Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover.

Although the noon rally was legally permitted, a march en-masse to the rally point near the United Nations headquarters was not. Instead, protestors organized into many smaller, sidewalk-traversing feeder marches which would eventually come together at the rally point.

Along with the traditional, slogan-shouting protesters was a rather unique feeder march organized by Bread and Puppet Theater which this reporter couldn’t help but participate in.

Accompanied by puppets, banners, and musicians, volunteers dressed in various costumes–including Iraqi women bearing their dead children, blood stained “butchers,” and “The Brown Population”–marched in a long procession along the streets of NYC, skirting around Central Park.

But it soon became apparent that the rally area was far too small to contain all the protestors. The police had enclosed the area in a large, chain-linked fence designed to hold up to 100,000 demonstrators – corresponding to the number of rally participants the NYPD reported. However, that street and the next two parallel to the U.N. headquarters were filled by feeder marches attempting to converge upon the rally point, prompting UFP’s estimate of nearly 500,000.

Police controlled the growing inflow of protestors by blocking off street intersections at strategic points, thereby directing the converging feeder marches along a far more circuitous route towards the U.N. headquarters.

Asked about the results of their efforts, a police officer speaking on conditions of anonymity replied, “Probably not too good because I don’t think they were expecting a crowd this size”. CNN had Police Commissioner Ray Kelly disagreeing: “I think it went well. It was orderly.”