1,000 protest in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Oct. 5th protest began with an early morning sound and set-up crew who hung banners, and positioned visually awesome props that set the stage and the climate. This painted a clear portrait for those who knew and didn’t know what was planned that day in Woodruff Park, the main park in the heart of downtown Atlanta. The main banner with the World Can’t Wait logo hung from the front of the 12 ft. gazebo, our stage area, accompanied by two smaller versions translated into Farsi and Spanish. There were seven 5×3 vinyl posters made of the “Your Governments” points from the World Can’t Wait Call that were attached to the pillars of the gazebo, and a startling array of 8 ft by 5 ft banners with a huge silhouette of George Bush with different captions: Fascist, Criminal, Imperialist, Murderer, Thug President, etc. were designed to be carried during the march. A Vietnam Memorial style wall bearing the names of the US soldiers killed in Iraq assisted in setting the tone for the day.
The day started off with a critical mass style bike ride thru downtown. There were only 7 people that came for that at 12:30. It was called the “Ride of Resistance to Drive Out the Bush Regime,” they attached the World Can’t Wait poster on poles to their bikes. Although it was very small, the participants got a great response from pedestrians and cars downtown and felt they made an impact. The ride returned back to the park by 2:00 to join the others gathering for the march.
At 2:00 an eager crowd of nearly 800 was instructed to carry their signs, bullhorns, courage and convictions to the streets. Led by a float constructed of 8ft x 8ft plywood panels with cartoon images of W, Rice, Cheney, and Rumsfeld running away, with Drive Out the Bush Regime painted above their heads, a multi-cultural mixture of students, elders, parents, professionals, movement activists and homeless citizens, including some people in wheelchairs joined in harmonious rhythm, voice and purpose to openly express their shared rejection of the criminal Bush Regime. We marched thru Georgia State University and the main plaza downtown. With a hundred two-sided World Can’t Wait signs peppering the march, and chants of Join Us, Join Us, the World Can’t Wait, Drive Out the Bush Regime!, it was clear what we were doing and what our goal is. We saw students peering out of windows, hanging over the overpasses checking out the march, and waiters looking out the windows of pretty high price restaurants watching as the march went by. One person brought 1,000 plastic whistles to distribute through the crowd. They were used throughout the day, but especially during the march.
After a highly energized, well-received march through downtown Atlanta, we reassembled in Woodruff Park for an afternoon rally. To begin the rally, 4 people in orange jumpsuits lined the front of the stage/gazebo, wearing hoods and kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs. The three MC’s for the event then took to the stage behind them in orange jumpsuits and hoods, and stood in silence to still the crowd before removing their hoods and dramatically reciting the 7 “Your Government” points from the call. The reception and energy from the crowd was amazing and remained consistent throughout each performance and presentation. The MC’s continued by reading the statement from the World Can’t Wait Steering Committee, and then a Gold Star mother of the first Georgia soldier to die in Iraq, Patricia Roberts; Denise Thomas, the co-founder of GA Military Families Speak Out; Patrick Bray, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War; and Borhan, an Iranian activist addressed the crowd next.
Ms. Lillie Mae Stokes, an elder and New Orleans Katrina survivor shared her emotional story, as did performers of Solongo Productions; a family of singers, drummers and dancers from New Orleans who performed soul stirring Samba and African rhythms. Atlanta’s own Theresa Davis delivered a powerful spoken word performance. While Dr. Ken Samuel, the pastor of Victory for the World Church, member of Ministers in Action for the People for the American Way, and president of the Dekalb County branch of the NAACP, brought down the house with his spirited speech on the “Wrongs” of the religious “Right” and fundamentalists.
Justin, a youth with World Can’t Wait opened with the famous quote from Mario Savio, from the 60’s Free Speech Movement, and the responsibility of the youth to build the movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime.
A message was read that was sent to the rally by the Indigo Girls, who performed locally later that evening. Followed by short statements of solidarity from representatives of the GA Green Party, GA Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, and the Revolutionary Communist Party.
After a socially-conscious Hip Hop performance by Godchild, Atlanta lined the streets of Peachtree St. (endearly dubbed Impeachtree St.) for rush hour, bearing banners, signs, whistles and bullhorns and were encouraged by recurrent horn blowing and waves of approval.
Throughout the day, there were about 1000 people who participated. The largest attended Atlanta World Can’t Wait event yet! We urged everyone to remain active and to attend next Thursday’s meeting at 7:00 at Horizons School @ 1900 Dekalb Ave., Atlanta 30307.