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by Paul Rosenberg
Monday, Oct. 29, 2001 at 1:11 AM
The official count topped 3,000 people at the rally in Pershing and march through downtown today. Crowds watching the march go by were generally friendly, with plenty of waving and flashing of peace signs.
The official count topped 3,000 people at the rally in Pershing and march through downtown today, with a diverse crowd of different ages, races and religion coming together for justice, rather than more violence against innocents. Speaking before the march, James Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild told the crowd that "the real patriots are in the streets today,," and that "we're going to beek coming back to the streets of America until America comes to its senses."
In the light of the just-passed "anti-terrorism" bill, Sabina Virgo of AFSCME reminded the crowd that "Washington called the ANC terrorists." Addressing the cause of peace and justice, she said, "We are here today because we don't want more death," and we are obligated because, "it's in our name that millions have become refugees."
The Reverand James Lawson, legendary civil rights leader and former head pastor at Holman United Methodist Church, said tat "for 60 years my nation has called on me to hate and wage war" but that it had "never called on me to bring... or to end racism." In light of actions he cited which the corporate media downplays or ignores, he said, "the United States government is the rouge nation and the terrorist nation in the world today. I say that with grief because this is my country."
Echoing a theme also raised by Sabina Virgo, he streessed the need to reach out and share our message. "We must talk to our families; we must talk to our friends," he told the crowd. "We must see this as a beginning... The end must be when we have millions of people in the streets who deman not war but peace." Our aim should be not a victory for the United States alone, but "a victory for all the people of the world."
Santa Monica Mayor Michael Feinstein, a Green, also struck the theme of the need to reach out and educate those around us. He pointed out that even before September 11, we were suffering from global blowback, as the same problems which first faced Third World workers were increasingly felt by workers in America. On the other hand, he pointed out the discrepancy between the swift reduction in the price of Cipro, in contrast to Al Gore's opposition to lower the price of AIDs drugs for South Africa during the 2000 election campaign, an issue on which he finally reversed himself, but only after intensive pressure from activists.
There were a number of other speakers both before and after the march, which was a very spirited, high-energy affair, winding its way east and sourth through the heart of Saturday's shopping crowds. People watching the march go by were generally friendly, with plenty of waving and flashing of peace signs. There was no sign of the sort of hostility the corporate media might lead one to expect. To the contrary, many onlookers seemed pleased and heartened to see so many people calling for a peaceful approach to securing justice.
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