Peace activists gathered from across the country in Washington, DC on Saturday to protest the war in Iraq and the President’s new plan to send more American troops. Organizers estimate that hundreds of thousands of demonstrators came from at least 40 states to show their opposition to the war. The program featured speakers from diverse backgrounds, including Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, United States Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and John Conyers (D-MI), Rev. Jesse Jackson, actors Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler, labor leaders, women’s and human rights leaders, women and men who have served or are currently serving in the military, and thousands of protestors representing the depth and diversity of the anti-war movement.
The message, however, was unified. Protestors opposed the escalation of the United States’ involvement in Iraq by sending more troops and demanded that troops be sent home now. Many speakers urged participants to contact their Representatives to sign a bill introduced by Democrat Representatives Waters, Lee, and Woolsey, titled Concluding Our Involvement in Iraq and Bringing Our Troops Home. Several speakers alluded to the recent November 2006 election, where voters cast their ballots for anti-war candidates. Said Fred Mason, head of the Maryland chapter of the AFL-CIO, “The American people spoke loudly in the November election, removing from office many of those who shared President Bush’s wrong-headed thinking… The new Congress has a responsibility to the American people to end military involvement in Iraq and bring our troops home now,” IPS reports.
Feminist groups had a strong presence at the rally, assembling beforehand at the Navy Memorial for a rally and feeder march to the larger protest on the National Mall. CodePink organized the successful women’s convergence, where the repeated slogan was “Women say pull out!” The strong presence of women activists confirmed the results of the most recent Ms. poll, which found that women are more likely to feel strongly about the Iraq war than men. In an article for the Winter 2006 issue of Ms., Blanche Wiesen Cook explored the unique involvement of women in the peace movement.
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