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Marching Past the Republican Convention

an article by David Adams and Joe Yannielli

The mood was festive as we marched past the Republican National Convention in New York on August 29. The crowd was so large (estimates varied from 60,000 to 500,000), that both the New York Times and CNN referred to it as the largest ever protest of a political convention. The organizers, United for Peace and Justice called the protest a "success."

It seemed like everyone had a message to send, some singing, some with professional-looking signs and even more with signs that were obviously made by hand. Many had printed creative slogans on t-shirts and banners. There were also plenty of costumes and props, like the hundreds of flag-draped coffins.

The messages condemned the war, economic injustice and the erosion of civil liberties, and the solutions varied greatly, from elect the Democrats to make a revolution. Even with such an outpouring of free expression and diversity of opinion, everyone seemed united in opposition to the ultra-right agenda and the leaders of the Republican party.

The mood was one of solidarity among hundreds of different groups, ranging from Quakers and "Christians for Peace" to Code Pink (a feminist group), veterans for peace, a "Books not Bombs" youth contingent (see CPNN report, Books Triumph over Bombs), and even "librarians for Kerry."

Because Mayor Bloomberg of New York refused to allow a rally in Central Park, there was no speakers' platform or formal speeches to the marchers. Instead, the organizing coalition, United for Peace and Justice, held a press conference that we could hear from station WBAI on our radios as we gathered for the march. Featured at the press conference were the organization of military families against the war, the new organization of Iraqi Veterans against the War, a representative of the National Council of Churches, filmmaker Michael Moore (see CPNN report on Fahrenheit 911), and various elected officials from New York City who oppose the war.


Question(s) related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?,

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I have two comments about this report.  The first is on the question about the effectiveness of mass protest marches.  

Recalling the effectiveness of mass protest marches in the 1978 Iranian Revolution, I looked it up on a search engine and found the following account of the revolution's climax"

  "In November, the Shah turned the government into a military government in order to force strikers back to work. But the worst, everyone knew, was about to come. The month of Muhurram was approaching, the month in which Shi'ites traditionally celebrate the martyrdom of Husayn. It is a passionate and highly religious month, and since the protests against the Shah were largely religious in nature, everyone knew that the country was on the verge of exploding.

  Muhurram began on December 2 with demonstrations, and these demonstrations would continue all throughout the month. They were massive, in the millions, and it was clear that the demonstrators, not the government, was in charge. They seized government buildings, shut down businesses with massive strikes, assassinated government officials. Iranian demonstrators knew this was the month of martyrdom and many would dress in white (the garb of martyrs) and try to provoke government troops to fire on them.

  On January 16, 1979, the Shah left Iran for good. On February 1, Khumayni returned to Iran to a welcoming crowd of several million people. . ...more.

This report was posted on September 1, 2004.

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