I rode a bus from Minnesota to DC to attend the Answer, Anti-War protest and rally that was held on September 24, 2005. The Minnesota contingent that left from our location was comprised of 8 large chartered buses, each of which holds about 50 persons. The Anti-War Committee and WAMM had 4 buses, the Democrats had one bus, and I was on one of the 3 buses from St Joan of Arc, a catholic church.
The bus I was on was filled with citizens from all walks of life. There was an abundance of educators (and retired educators), a dentist, parents with their teenage children, and musicians among the people I got to know during our 24-hour trip each way. Twenty-four hours might seem like a long time to ride a bus (and it is) but the company of thoughtful persons and the entertainment of a talented musician made it a pleasant, memorable experience.
The group I was with all wore red berets during our time in DC. An observer from NY City joked that she thought we were members of the subway vigilante group in her city.
We sang peace and social justice songs as we marched. Everyone was civil; no hate speech emanated from our group. An overwhelming majority of the marchers were like us – concerned, mainstream citizens who were expressing their dissatisfaction with current government policies. But that isn’t the only group that I focused my camera on. In addition, I concentrated on visually stimulating and provoking images I witnessed that represent the many ways that persons express themselves during a rally of this size. I saw anger, grief, and street theater, and that’s what I documented with my camera. Click here for more photos from DC
I saw many angry youth. I believe their reactions are a response, in part, to a government that doesn't listen to the will of its people. It's a government that teaches shock and awe, ignores international treaties, promotes cronism, and treats its critics with contempt. They see a system that doesn't work and they are seeking ways to gain attention for their cause. Despite this anger, everyone I observed acted in a peaceful manner.
One important theme that arises from the protest is that domestic policy and the war in Iraq are closely linked. I saw numerous signs addressing Katrina victims at this rally and I even became one myself. Our bus arrived at the mall at about 9 am, two hours before the program began. A booth set up near the Washington monument was passing out free bright yellow t shirts with the slogan “Make Levees, Not War” printed on them in large black letters. The person passing them out said he would give them to people under one condition: that they agree to wear them. I eagerly complied with his request.
I and many others have been arguing for years that the war in Iraq has to be examined in the context of domestic policies. Money spent in Iraq is money that cannot be used for education, healthcare, social security, and infrastructure. I believe that the citizens of the US are becoming more aware of this connection, and I see the rally in DC as promoting that goal in a positive manner. Interestingly, at the same time people are recognizing a link between domestic spending and war spending, fewer people are believing the link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. An exception is the person in the only pro-war image I posted on my photo web site.
During the bus ride, a musician played guitar as we sang along. Click on these files to hear some of that music (these files are VERY large and take a few minutes with a fast system to engage your player)