Thousands march in L.A. protest

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By Griffith Fuller

By Griffith Fuller

Four years after the war in Iraq began, people are still out marching the streets showing their discontent with the Bush administration.

On Oct. 27, an estimated 10,000 anti-war protesters gathered in Los Angeles according to ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).

At noon the crowd assembled at Olympic and Broadway, and shortly after the announcements of several organizers and the performance of a hip-hop act, the crowd marched to City Hall.

Protesters carried signs that expressed concern over various socio-political issues occurring in the world right now.

One protester carried a big banner that stated “Free the Jena 6,” referring to the six African-American high school students who were arrested for presumably assaulting a white classmate after several racist incidents were perpetrated by the white teenager.

Another carried a sign that stated “Bush will lie again to invade Iran.”

Many other protesters also carried signs in support of the Jena 6 and concerns over a possible invasion in Iran.

As the 2008 presidential election nears, many activists are jumping on the campaign trail to endorse their favorite candidates.

There were signs showing support for Senator Barack Obama and Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Also in the crowd were 9/11 conspiracy theorists, one in particular who wore a realistic Dick Cheney mask and carried a sign mocking support for Republican Congressman Ron Paul with another poster attached to his sign which read “9/11 was an inside job.”

During the march, a passionate ANSWER organizer representing Movimiento Latino USA told the crowd that the current war had ulterior motives.

“The war in Iraq was based off of racism,” he said.

Five conservative protesters marched on the curb surrounded by the Los Angeles Police Department officers on bikes, in contrast to the thousands in the streets.

A young counter-protester in his 20s held a sign that read “Stop playing games with the troops. Support them, support what they do. Let them finish their job.”

Walking with them were several other younger males, one female, and an elderly Vietnam War veteran.

As the crowd reached Temple Street, the aggressive sounds of local Riverside band Conspiracy of Thoughts came blaring from the speakers set up at the stage that marked the end of the march route.

Guest speakers at the stage included author and Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, actor Martin Sheen, and other leaders and representatives of various organizations all over Southern California.

After a succession of speakers, the activists staged a die-in in which the sounds of bombs dropping and sirens were played over the PA speakers as the crowd laid down to represent the fallen soldiers and civilians.

During the die-in, a small group of anti-war protesters debated and argued with the five conservative counter-protesters on the other side of the yellow tape protected by LAPD officers.

One liberal protestor questioned the conservative protesters motives and asked that they define patriotism.

“I fought for my country,” an elderly Vietnam veteran yelled in response. “What are you doing?”

Officers of the LAPD were on bikes, in squad cars, and even had a helicopter flying overhead.

Officers were also seen on top of the bridge on Temple Street filming and photographing protesters.

One officer stated that the purpose of the helicopter was to monitor and surveillance the crowd and that the purpose of the strong presence and visibility of LAPD officers was to make sure that “anarchists or communists didn’t disrupt the rally.”

Although the number of protesters had reached the thousands, activist Dick Morris of Riverside Area Peace and Justice Action felt that the turnout was less than expected.

“There could have been more people,” Morris said.

According to the Los Angeles Times, an approximate accumulation of 30,000 protesters marched nationwide Oct. 27 in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

ANSWER LA is already in the process of planning the protest march for the five-year anniversary of the War in Iraq.

Other plans and promotions from the organization include a march at Leimert Park on Nov. 7 in South Central in support of the Jena 6 and a Socialism conference in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 10.

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