Sunday, February 16th, 2003
"Say No To Crimes Against The Peace"
So stated the placard we conveniently found discarded outside the Eaton Centre en route to the peace rally which as far as I could tell, had no official name. Despite some dubious grammar, we decided to hang onto it, and if nothing else, it was very useful as a homing beacon amongst the tens of thousands of other marchers.
I’d never taken part in something like this, not normally being the activist-y sort, but despite the bitter, bitter cold it seemed like the right thing to do. And anyway, I had nothing better to do this Saturday except buy socks, and that was easily postponed till today. It was a pretty impressive mass of people, though being at ground level I couldn’t get a proper appreciation for the size of the rally. Newspaper estimates seem to range from 10,000 to 80,000 – Best I can offer is ‘lots’.
It was interesting to note how many causes were out in full force trying to piggyback their messages on top of the general ‘Don’t Bomb Iraq’ sentiment. ‘Less war, more beds for the homeless’, etc. All well-intentioned but curious nonetheless. The speakers were emphatic and sporadically inspiring, but had a tough sell to the crowd who either couldn’t hear or were anxious to get moving and get some blood circulation back.
It’s a pity that ShrubCo couldn’t have started beating the war drums a little closer to, oh, June or something, because the cold was really something to deal with. Before we even got out of Dundas Square, my feet were numb and I was thinking about cutting through the Eaton Centre and catching up with the protest later on. I didn’t, but I thought about it.
Observed along the march were:
– A single pro-war protestor camped out in front of the US consulate waving an American flag
– A whiter-than-white fellow in a turban screaming really unnecessary epithets at the police maintaing the perimeter around the consulate, with his small child, also sporting a turban, in tow. I have to think that this guy had some rage issues totally unrelated to anything political that need addressing.
– Small packs of shoppers along Queen St regarding the oncoming hordes of protesters with more than a little fear in their eyes.
We did make it all the way to Metro Square, and while I would have liked to have stuck around and listened to some more speakers, I was really concerned that all my toes were not accounted for, so it was off the the Black Bull for Coke and onion rings. Hey, I told you I’m not a hardcore activist.
Reading the reports from news sources around the world, and wrapping my head around the sheer numbers of people participating yesterday, I feel good about having been part of it. Not only because it’s always fun to be part of a mob, but because it helped allay some of the feelings of helplessness I’ve had about the whole rigmarole. A single person can be heard, if they have a few million other people alongside them.
Some news articles on the rallies worldwide:
And my own pics from yesterday.
np – J Mascis & The Fog / More Light