"The March Is Just Beginning"

Giant Protest March in New York City Condemns the U.S. government Attack on Iraq

"Our grief is not a cry for war", one sign proclaimed. "New York City is not for war", another protester explained. These were but two of the sea of homemade signs and people that filled the streets of New York City on Saturday, March 22, 2003. Protesters stretched at least two miles across Broadway, marching from 42nd Street to Washington Square Park.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the New York City march was the largest in the U.S. on Saturday. The ability to have a march in New York City to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq was itself a victory for New Yorkers. Some aspects of the march were in sharp contrast to the police tactics on February 15, when protesters were not only denied a permit to march, but many protesters were also denied access to the rally that police had given a permit.1

Organizers of the march estimated that there were at least 350,000 protesters. A broadcast from the New York WBAI radio station of the Pacifica Network reported their estimate of a million people. A person at the march felt he could account for between 250,000 and 400,000 from the people he saw.

Three young women carried a sign that said, "Real eyes realize real lies." They blamed the U.S. media for any support that there is for the war in the U.S., explaining how they appreciated their access to the alternative media via the Internet and via New York's WBAI radio station.

It was clear to all at the march that this was a very big march. It was a march of people from New York City and surrounding areas, to publicly express their views that the attack on Iraq by their government disgusted them. In response to the claim that there is a silent majority who support the government's actions, one protester carried a sign saying, "We are the verbal majority."

Yet at 4 p.m. the protest march was suddenly stopped by the police. Other people were not allowed to join it. The permit was until 4 p.m. and the police brought a big show of force to end the march. The many many people, of many nationalities, ages, and occupations, were in sharp contrast to the images in the U.S. media glorifying the bombing of a precious region of the world, the birthplace of civilization.

Protesters indicted the Bush Regime as war criminals and compared the attack on Iraq to the beginning of the Second World War. The sentiment of protesters could be summed up by the sign, "America get out of New York City." Similar signs proclaimed, "Stop Bush, Take Back America". Another sign carried by a few people said "Welcome to Oz. Bush needs a brain. Cheney needs a heart. And Congress needs courage."

Explaining why they had come to the march, several protesters described how watching tv coverage of the attack on Iraq, they knew they had to find a way to do something to try to stop the war. Whether it succeeded or not, they had to try.

The attack on the rights of people inside the U.S. was another theme of many signs, such as, "Repeal the Patriot Act", "Bush steals votes and oil". Marchers chanted, "Impeach Bush" and carried signs like "Evict the squatter from the White House."

The march was an experience that participants will remember. Many hundreds of thousands of people in New York City, the city which directly experienced the "fear and awe" of 9-11, said a resounding "No" to the U.S. government claim that its attack on Iraq is made necessary by 9-11. Large numbers of New Yorkers came out boldly, determined to do what they could to prevent civilians in Iraq from suffering from "fear and awe". One sign sums up what many participating in the protest felt, "We are part of an international coalition of millions." (Ronda Hauben)