"Beyond War" in NYC

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

We felt pretty dismal, the dozen or so of us CODEPINK women gathered at Franklin and Lafayette Streets in lower Manhattan around 11:30 a.m. Saturday for United for Peace and Justice's "Beyond War" mass mobilization on to Wall Street, designed to link poverty, the economic crisis, and racism with war and occupation. We were frozen, thanks to 90,000 miles-per-hour gusts whipping through, and deflated, as the other meeting spots appeared as empty as ours with only half an hour to start. A whopping 500 people would show, we thought, huddling against one building to hide from the wind. Some anti-war movement!

Then out of nowhere, about five minutes before noon, people poured in. Our crowd quadrupled. Energy abounded. NYC-celeb and Green Party mayorial candidate Rev. Billy arrived with a small choir, as did some from War Resisters League and more from CODEPINK DC, Long Island and NYC.

And so we were off, dancing and marching with our signs and banners, fueled by an amazing four-person band Himalaya that decided to march right among us. With thousands of others, we snaked our way through the narrow streets (made more narrow by the relatively-friendly NYC police) on down to Battery Park, where several dozen organizations from CODEPINK to the Green Party hawked buttons, stickers and more, distributed literature and schmoozed with the crowd. We heard about 10,000 people marched, quite a feat considering the weather and overall political mood these past few months. Not bad, not bad at all!

That mood -- of confusion, of hope, of despair, of misdirection, of disagreement, of inspiration -- has made organizing rather tough. Our country's economic collapse, thanks to mismanaged corporations rewarded over and over by billions of our taxes, has enraged us and given us momentum to call out against its numerous injustices and connect them to the war economy. But our pockets, too, have emptied. It's not easy to fund-raise, fly cross country to join a march, print banners or invest in outreach, let alone convince mainstream America to join the cause and do the same. We all have different priorities, too, now that the Iraq War no longer unites us. Gaza, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- how much has escalated there in the past few months alone, not to mention violent escalations the anti-war movement have largely ignored, like those in Sri Lanka, Congo and Mexico. Then there's Obama and "Obamanation." Many of us in the movement rode the nation's wave of ecstasy that pushed him to his presidency, but now for many of us, that wave has crashed into a wall of reality. How to push Obama when the American public largely supports his every move (it'd be easier in Europe, where G20 protesters seemed to have some answers).

None in the movement here have offered solid answers. But we're working hard on them. Today Brave New Foundation is hosting a Get Afghanistan Right blogging day, encouraging all with a blog to write about ending the military occupation of Afghanistan, and UFPJ has some days of action planned. We've put together this page on our Web site, with resources, and we plan for quite a bit of discussion and outreach at our Mother's Day 24-hour vigil across the street from the White House this May 9 and 10. The mood Saturday warmed considerably as the day wore on, as we were reminded of our incredible potential to join together to demonstrate our desire for change, fiercer than any wind we faced that day.

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