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Drive Out the Bush Regime

by Leslie Radford Saturday, Oct. 07, 2006 at 7:58 PM

Thursday's World Can't Wait march united immigrants, nurses, anti-war activists, opponents of torture, truth-seekers, and all those disaffected with the state of the union in a movement that burgeoned even as it walked down Broadway.

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LOS ANGELES, 5 October 2006--Or was it 1965?  As part of a massive nationwide protest, World Can't Wait assembled on 6th and Olive for a march up Broadway to the Federal Building to demand the overthrow of the administration of the U.S. government.  Along the way, they joined with the March 25 Coalition, opposing that administration's persecution of immigrants. 

It was a display of unity between immigrants of all ages and mostly young Black and white people echoing the 1960's crossover between youthful anti-war activists and civil rights fighters: tenuous, yes; charged, yes; and, under it all, ultimately right.  It was a privilege and a challenge to take part, if even for a couple of hours, in this conjuncture that might herald an alliance that the 60's generation never managed to solidify.

At 2:30 p.m. a traffic control officer said that only a couple of handfuls of Bush opponents were listening to Tom Morello on the downtown corner.  By 3:00 p.m., a scant 500 people had assembled, and I was busy thinking about how to write about the few brave souls who were willing to call out the Bush regime.  After a few false starts to move the bicyclists to the lead, to find bearers for the flag-draped "coffins," the marchers turned the corner to Broadway, hollering out to pedestrians, "No more lies, no more hate:  drive out Bush--the world can't wait!"  A red and black banner led the way, proclaiming simply, "Katrina."

Event organizers bullhorned from their truck, "Move, Bush! Get out the way. Get out the way, Bush! Get out the way!"  The crowd, louder, joined them.   Code Pink, in even more hot pink than usual, brought up the rear with their banner and a pink VW bus.  Then a pair of indigenous dancers with their drummer were in their midst.

A few blocks further, and older people seemed to have infiltrated the crowd.  One woman, dressed in green, held a sign with a picture of the statue of liberty shot in the heart and asking, "Who killed liberty?"  A multicultural crew of middle-aged women were walking arm-in-arm.  A pair of younger, bandana-ed anarchists giggled when someone commented that they were a cute couple.  A contingent of African-Americans appeared, drumming and chanting, "Ain't no power like the power of the people, and the power of the people won't stop!"  Even some of the older crew bobbed and skipped just a bit to the rhythm.  Photographers stopped for a pair of masked Bushes, one in a blood-stained white dress and one holding a sign that said "Terrorist" and pointing to himself.  A dozen construction workers hung out of the windows of a building under renovation, many wrapping bandanas over their faces, and waved support to the marchers below.

I wasn't sure when, but somewhere along the way, the March 25 group hooked up.  The marchers were calling out, "Who's world?  Our world!" as we crossed the 110 highway.  As I walked the block across Arcadia, I glanced behind me--the line stretched down the block and back over the highway.  Ahead, more people jammed the Main Street overpass and beyond. On the other side of the the 110 at Aliso, the crew of nurses who were protesting the Governor held up their banner: "5 de Octubre! El mundo no puede esparar!!!!!!"

At 5:00 p.m., an organizer estimated the crowd at two thousand to twenty-five hundred, and anticipated more were on the way.

The Federal Building was guarded by a couple dozen cops, way overdressed in their riot gear and plastic shields.   A 911 Truth group tried to convert them, and a cluster of anarchists taunted them, next to the twenty symbolic coffins, carefully laid in front of the steps.  On the stage, Political Power of Hip Hop provided the beat until the Reverend Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd took the stage and confessed, "Our generation has failed you."  Then he called on the crowd: "We're going to make the change by taking to the streets in massive numbers.  Drive out the Bush regime!"  A World Can't Wait spokesperson announced that 108 protests were happening in Republican states alone, and Canada was hosting eleven more, all determined to end Bush's reign. The crowd roared.

Then Ed Asner, outspoken radical inscribed in TV culture as Lou Grant, took the stage to read the World Can't Wait Call, the Call read across the continent:  "People look at all this and think of Hitler - and they are right to do so. . . . We must act now; the future is in the balance. . . . Silence and paralysis are not acceptable. . . . the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be stopped. . . .

"We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history. . . . If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world . . . We are not going to stop.

"The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us." Asner concluded.

Michelle Phillips of the Sixties band The Mamas and the Papas was repeating the call in Spanish as I reluctantly walked away.  Other speakers were scheduled to follow, but I had an appointment.

I was born too late to witness the inception of the last Revolution, but I imagined it must have been something like this: a few hundred, then a few thousand brave souls here and there across the country, and ultimately millions, who understood that the only way out was through the darkness, confronting it, naming it, and demanding that it end.

See Stephen Sakulsky's photos.

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