United for Peace & Justice’s National Mobilization to End the War in Iraq was yesterday. The group estimates that 100,000 people took part in 11 regional demonstrations. Organizers of the Chicago march and rally put the local crowd at 30,000 but local media are reporting police estimates of 5,000. That’s quite a gap, but I’ve seen such before on a smaller scale. For example, at the Gathering at the Gates of Blackwater North last summer, Blackwater claimed there were about 30 participants but I counted 78 and there would have been more except a few got lost trying to find the place.
IMO the numbers for yesterday’s organized counter-demonstration was accurate at 20.
About 45 rode a schoolbus from DeKalb. On the bus we formed “affinity groups,” a buddy system of 3-6 members each so nobody could disappear without some others knowing and taking action. Then we were each given the 1968 version of the “Know Your Rights” pamphlet in case we got questioned, searched &/or arrested.
A bit after 2:30 p.m. we found ourselves in the midst of a very large march from Union Park to Federal Plaza. Numbers matter, I thought, only so far as they put us closer to the moment of “yopp.”
If it was impossible to count it was equally impossible not to remain in the moment. Rosemarie flashed the peace sign at a cop, who returned it. We took turns playing the “German Shepherd” to keep the affinity group together (h/t M.E.;^). As we passed some apartments we spotted people waving from high-up windows, while a couple on the ground floor, dressed in camo, stood smirking beside a door with a sign that read, “No hippie scum allowed.” Helicopters hovered above the building canyons. There was chanting. I felt like I hit my stride with the callout-and-response, “Show me what democracy looks like/THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE” and briefly wondered if we’d reach the point of “yopp” today, as in Horton Hears a Who.
Seuss’ Horton, you will recall, was the only creature who could hear the Whos in the town of Who-ville, which was located on a speck of dust. The survival of Who-ville depended on the inhabitants’ being heard by Horton’s neighbors, who thought to destroy the speck to save Horton from presumed insanity.
Through the town rushed the Mayor, From the east to the west.
But everyone seemed to be doing his best.
Everyone seemed to be yapping or yipping!
Everyone seemed to be beeping or bipping!
But it wasn’t enough, all this ruckus and roar!
He HAD to find someone to help him make more.
He raced through each building! He searched floor-to-floor!
And, just as he felt he was getting nowhere,
And almost about to give up in despair,
He suddenly burst through a door and that Mayor
Discovered one shirker! Quite hidden away
In the Fairfax Apartments (Apartment 12-J)
A very small, very small shirker named Jo-Jo
was standing, just standing, and bouncing a Yo-Yo!
Not making a sound! Not a yipp! Not a chirp!
And the Mayor rushed inside and he grabbed the young twerp!
And he climbed with the lad up the Eiffelberg Tower.
“This,” cried the Mayor, “is your towns darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
To come to the aid of their country!” he said.
“We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”
Thus he spoke as he climbed. When they got to the top,
The lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, “YOPP!”
And that Yopp…
That one small, extra Yopp put it over!
Finally, at last! From that speck on that clover
Their voices were heard! They rang out clear and clean.
And the elephant smiled. “Do you see what I mean?…
They’ve proved they ARE persons, no matter how small.
And their whole world was saved by the smallest of All!”
Photos of yesterday’s turnout can be found here. Local photos coming soon.