An estimated 50,000 anti-war demonstrators filled the streets of Hollywood on March 17, a day which marked the four-year anniversary of the war in Iraq. The demonstration was put together by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism organization, also known as A.N.S.W.E.R. and many volunteers.
The streets were closed from Hollywood and Vine, stretching down to Sunset, and back to Hollywood and Highland. Police officers in horses and in motorcycles supervised the entire demonstration.
Children of all ages walked with their parents, pregnant women held banners that said “Bring Our Troops Home” and “Buck Fush,” people on wheelchairs chanted and people of all colors participated in the protest.
Nikhil Murthy from Los Angeles wore a black cloth that covered his entire face, with holes to breathe and to see of course. “We wear this as an artistic way to protest against the war,” said Murthy. Fake coffins symbolizing dead U.S. troops were being carried by groups of volunteers.
Joe Free, who is a political artist, displayed his famous George Bush doll that measures between eight to nine feet and depicts Bush as clown. On one hand the doll holds a missile and on the other it holds American dollars.
“I have been doing this since the year 2000 when Bush first stole the presidency,” said Free. His work may be viewed at www.eDiablo.com
Teenagers from several high schools, including Hamilton High, and people representing various communities throughout southern California, came together to protest the ongoing war.
“Bush escucha, estamos en la lucha” chanted the Latinos for Peace group, whose chant translated to “Bush listen, we are in a struggle.”
The Los Angeles Food Not Bombs group (a non-profit organization) handed out free food to everyone in attendance to raise the awareness that our government should spend billions of dollars on the needy instead of on the war. Serving various fruits such as bananas, pineapple, strawberries, and melon, they take food that would be thrown away and make healthy vegan meals for free to serve to the hungry. For volunteering information about this group, visit Lafoodnotbombs.org.
Some protestors, like Rochelle Pierce, demonstrated with a friend and not with a group. “I hope that Congress will find out about this demonstration and change their minds because we need to start the impeachment and stop the procrastination,” said Pierce.
Whether people heard about the demonstration from the radio, or at the Immanuel Presbyterian church, or from a friend on the popular website MySpace.com, everyone there showed a huge amount of support with zero pro-war people to be seen.
The Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) here on campus, also known as A.L.A.S. had a few members who attended the demonstration.
“I attended the march because I watch the news and I hear about all the injustice that is going on with the war in Iraq and it does not feel right,” said student Jorge Aguero who is also a member of A.L.A.S.
It was not just common folk who are upset with this war, prominent people of our society like the internationally known group Ozomatli performed at the end of the march to show support for peace in Iraq.
They are a multiethnic ten piece band that play primarly Latin, hip-hop, and rock. Ozomatli is known both for their extremely vocal activist viewpoints and their wide array of musical styles – including salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, and others.
Various speeches were given by people who represented their community groups, as well as troops who served for the U.S. military.
“I think that any manifesto has to have its successful parts, because it makes it possible for the people to have their voices” said Aguero. ” I am glad to have been a part of such a big demonstration,” added Aguero.