Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, October 02, 2010

BIG CROWD AT RALLY IN DC




It was a huge rally today in Washington. It started at noon and lasted until 4:00 pm. I left around 2:30 pm and as I walked the dozen blocks to the subway the sidewalks were still filled with thousands of people who were just arriving.

While on the metro I spoke to a union activist who had worked at the RFK stadium where 700 buses were parked. That is about 35,000 people right there. I would guess the protest had to have at least 75,000 - 100,000 people at it.

The peace continent met at 10:30 this morning in the shadow of the Washington monument and then marched over to the rally site at the Lincoln memorial. There couldn't have been many more than 1,500 peace activists in that grouping. It appears that because the One Nation organizers never really seriously included the peace movement's issues of war, peace, and military spending in the official literature and web site for the action, it had a negative impact on the response from peaceniks around the country.

I never heard any speaker from the peace movement while I was at the rally. Someone told me that maybe one would get to talk. So much for inclusion of a key constituency in the program. It really does indicate to me that the Democrats didn't want the peace issues to be given much of a sounding at the event.

There was a huge number of black people, and to a lesser degree Hispanics, at the rally. The SEIU (Service Employees International Union) was heavily represented. I heard that they paid for 600 of the 700 buses. The United Auto Workers (UAW) had a strong attendance too but not many other unions stood out in great numbers.

Those peace activists that were present were carrying many different signs with the Bring Our War $$ Home message on them. So it appears that the slogan is spreading. I met a peace group from suburban Maryland that carried a banner that had that slogan on it as well.

I hung out for some time with the Catholic Worker folks who had come from throughout the northeast for the rally. Then I walked around the entire rally site checking out the scene and getting a feel for the vibes in the crowd. My biggest sense of it all was that people were feeling good about being together in such a very ethnically diverse event. That was the best thing about the whole day.

The best chant I heard all day was from the activists behind the "Socialist contingent" banner. They were shouting: "Obama's no Socialist - but we are!"

My talk last night went very well at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House. We had a good discussion afterwards. I learned today that Dorothy Day's granddaughter was there. Not many of them knew very much about space issues so it was a good chance to bring them up to date on the work of the Global Network. They were also interested in hearing more about Maine's Bring Our War $$ Home campaign too.

It was particularly fun for me to see two old friends again at my talk. Patrick O'Neil and Paul Magno were involved in the 1984 Pershing Plowshares action in Orlando, Florida when I lived there. I helped organize support for them during their court trial. Their action, during the time of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, was very controversial in conservative Central Florida. (They poured their blood and hammered on a Pershing II nuclear missile launcher after they broke into the Martin Marietta Corporation.) Patrick lived with me and my son Julian for several months after he got out of prison. He is quite the character and a dedicated activist.

I am at the airport in Baltimore now waiting for my 9:00 pm flight back to Portland. I get the day off on Sunday and then head to Massachusetts on Monday for my talk at Merrimack College.

I did alot of walking today. I'm trying to get in walking shape for the Maine peace walk in November. I got a couple emails from Maine in the last day telling me that folks have begun registering with Veterans for Peace for the walk so that is exciting news.

2 Comments:

Blogger Shelley said...

harry belafonte spoke about peace and anti-war efforts.

10/2/10, 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Brother Jonah said...

It's the biggest strength (some say weakness) of the Left that we don't have "stars" to rally around. Something the Right Wing Astroturf will never accomplish.

Mass movements centered on one or a very select few Leaders can only do one thing well. Start Wars. Usually not by actual working class members or even graduates of the working class.

Then they'll demand that we go and win their stupid wars for them.

10/3/10, 4:24 AM  

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