I just got back from today's March for Peace, Justice and Democracy in NYC and all I can say is, "wow, what a day".
The weather was perfect, the mood was spirited, the people were psyched and passionate, and I was choked up more than once at what I heard and saw. Luckily for me, I was meeting my buddy Lawrence at his sister's place which was right at the start of the march route on 22nd and Broadway. And somehow, I remembered to not only bring a camera but also a pad and pen so I could capture what I thought was going to be an eventful, emotional and all around good day.
And I was certainly not mistaken nor let down. I hope you enjoy the pictures as well as my little commentary (sorry, dial-up users, there are a lot of photos...) For anyone else who was there, I would love to hear your stories, comments and pictures too.
The march was supposed to start around noon at 22nd and Broadway, but by 11:15 or so, the streets were packed. I got to the meeting place around 10:45 or so, and was able to get this picture of Cheney, Bush, Rummy and Rice's heads on the ground - these heads were put on bodies in prison jumpsuits as you can see from the two pictures.
That was when everyone was setting up, and there were still around 100 people on the corner. Below is around an hour later:
Our early estimates were that there were around 50,000 people at the start of the march. Being a math geek, I guessed that each intersection had around 8,000 people, with another 1,000 - 2,000 on Broadway. Since 18th Street through 23rd Streets were closed off, that was our initial guess. As it turns out, I think we were way, way, WAY off as the pictures will show.
Around 11:45 or so, the crowd started getting real thick, and there were so many good signs, as you can see:
This was a great sign:
Osama Bin Forgotten: one of my favorite signs ever:
And Darth Cheney the puppeteer with King Chimpy too:
From behind (notice the target on Cheney's back and "The Lying King" on Dear Leader's back:
This is Lawrence, his buddy Matt and yours truly with a great sign - the other side said "How Many Gallons Per Life?"
And one of me and Lawrence, before the march started:
I thought of you, nyceve when I took this one:
All this was before we even got started. As we were waiting to get started, there were tons of people chanting, young kids with their parents, veterans, college and high school aged people, and many twenty and thirtysomethings. Chants like "racist, sexist, anti-gay...George Bush go away!!" and "George Bush, we know you, your daddy was a killer too".
Off in the distance, we heard a lone trumpet playing "Give Peace A Chance" and I got chills up my spine. Totally surreal.
Finally, a bit before 1 PM we started our way down Broadway on our journey. And it became pretty obvious by all of the people streaming into the streets that there were closer to 100,000 people by then. Also, one thing I must point out is how great the police were. You could barely sense their presence, as if they almost were in agreement with the marchers. In fact, many of the people marching, including me, thanked them for the great job they were doing.
Off topic for you football fans, my buddy Lawrence is a Jet fan, and he got a call from his friend early in the march who told him that the Jets passed on Leinart. When I told him that they Jets will regret that for years to come, I got the typical Jet fan comment - "we don't need Leinart, we have Ramsey and Pennington". As Nelson Muntz would say, "HA...ha".
Anyway, back to the march. We were towards the front third when it started, and couldn't believe how many people were still in front of us. A couple of the pics below will hopefully give an idea of how far this stretched. We estimated at one point that it had to be at least 20 blocks or so - 13 or so in front of us and 7 or so behind us.
This was somewhat close to the beginning of the march. And here are a few other views:
Looking up Broadway:
And some more real good signs - "Draft the Bush Twins"
This one needs no explanation. Best. Sign. Ever.
Around halfway through the march, we decided to get some lunch at Whole Foods in Union Square. While we were walking, a bus rode up the east side of Union Square, and there was one man on board the bus. He was around 80-90 or so, and flashed the peace sign to us as he rode by. I couldn't get a picture, but man, what a great moment that was.
By the time we stopped, got some food and ate, around 20 minutes went by, and Union Square was still packed. I snapped this picture from the window at Whole Foods looking out on Union Square and you can see that there are still a ton of people marching, even 20 minutes later:
There were also people lining the sidewalks, a few people deep at some points too. This was someone who put a few signs in her window and was cheering as we walked by:
I'll leave you with 2 more pictures - one against bombing Iran and the other was "the backbone platform", which was around 40 feet long and had slogans like "strengthening social security", "troops out of Iraq", "college for all" and many others.
All in all, it was a very moving and emotional day. When we got down to the park in City Hall at the end of the march, there were booths set up for protecting labor, healthcare, womens' rights, no nukes, the environment, and around 15 others. People were out on the lawns just having a good time relaxing after a long march.
It was truly a great scene, and a great day.
And when I was done, I had more hope than I did when I started the march.