Saturday, September 15, 2007

ANSWER Rally (too long) and March (OK)


Today ANSWER, working with Iraq Veterans Against the War, had a two and a half hour anti-war rally at Lafayette Park, followed by a march and civil disobedience at the foot of the Capitol building. The energy of the crowd was great, and it was a diverse crowd, both generationally and ethnically. It was also rather big, about 200,000 -- about half the size of UFPJ's rally and march at the end of January, but ANSWER pulled this off with only two month's lead time. So organizationally it was perfectly promoted.

However, the rally was far too long; about two and a half hours before even starting the march. A few of the speakers were really good (some weren't), but the sound system was lousy. If you have a couple HUNDRED THOUSAND people show up, you probably shouldn't be using a sound system only good for about a crowd of 5,000.

And while I enjoyed the march, the civil disobedience at the foot of the Capitol Building was poorly organized and executed. There should have been more explanations given the crowd. If you are going to have a large die-in, you need to try and separate the folks participating in it from the folks who are not. Not real effective to have people standing right next to people doing the die-in. In addition, some folks not doing civil disobedience were making the situation worse for those who were by standing face to face with the police and hurling insults at them. The situation was not peaceful, and clearly ANSWER did not provide adequate nonviolence training for people participating.

Overall, good to see people out marching against war. It must end! But ANSWER needs to shorten their rallies and provide better planning and support for nonviolent direct actions in the future.

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