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by Anna Kunkin
Friday, Mar. 21, 2003 at 11:14 AM
Several hundred people gathered in Westwood at the Federal Building Wednesday afternoon and evening in expectation of the massacre of Iraq beginning at the end of Bush's 48 hour ultimatum.
It was a chilly night on the street in front of the Westwood Federal Building. In a scene reminiscent of a WW11 movie the group of a hundred or so folks huddled around the radio waiting for word that the bombing had begun.
And when the word came, looking around me, I saw faces; young, older, black, brown, and white; set in sorrow and grief for the innocents being murdered thousands of miles away. I saw intelligent eyes, fully aware of the lies spewing forth from the people who call themselves our leaders.
And while they may be new at this and not quite sure what to do next, the cops knew what to do. And while the kids debated shutting down the street and the city, the uniforms swelled from a lazy presence to an aware alert army. Seemingly within moments of the official announcement, the demonstrators were surrounded by formations of cops who pressed in, creating a tension and sense of danger that succeeded in difusing any immediate action.
Muffy of the Socialist Workers party blamed this inability to act on some of the larger organizing groups who, she says, create an elitist situation, pressing other potential organizers out and leaving smallish groups like this unable to function when the larger groups aren't present.
Still the protest prevailed when the cops eventually left, and the kids, taking advantage of the moment, joyfully staged die-ins, shutting down traffic on the corner of Wilshire and Veteran. i. The drivers for the most part were supportive, and most seemed not to mind being made part of the moment; honking and displaying peace signs from their cars; although I saw one woman angrily screaming in support of the war.
Within five minutes or so the cops reappeared; running across the street towards the protestors, and pressing them back on to the sidewalk. Professionally threatening, they held their pose, waiting for one false move from the protestors. And when it came, they pounced. From where I was standing it looked like a football huddle; a pile of cops on one kid to bring him down and handcuff him, over the amplified voice of the Sergeant on duty announcing that everybody's 1st amendment rights would be maintained as long as no one attempted to sit in the street. It was an eerie and surreal moment.
This is the beginning of the resistance and it will be interesting to see what happens next as the protestors and cops alike become more seasoned in the days to come.
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