Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

In D.C., Dartmouth group joins thousands

WASHINGTON -- Over the weekend nearly 60 Dartmouth students marched with tens of thousands of other non-violent protestors and political notables in a National Day of Action against President Bush's proposed military action against Iraq.

The Day of Action, which included both a march and a rally, attracted several nationally recognized speakers, included Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and politically active actress Susan Sarandon.

Despite the nearly 10-hour journey the Dartmouth students had made to Washington all of Friday night, their energy remained strong throughout the entire day.

Dartmouth students were some of the most well-decorated and vocal members of the crowd during the march from 21st St. and Constitution Ave. past the White House and back to the Congressional mall.

Aside from chanting and shouting through their megaphone as they marched, the group of Dartmouth students stood for nearly an hour on the steps of the Corcoran Gallery of Art behind a banner they had made reading, "Vox Clamantis in Deserto -- Dartmouth Students: No War on Iraq." The students led the crowd in anti-war chants as hundreds stopped to listen and cheer for the students.

Later in the march, the Dartmouth students stood in front of the line of riot police and jeered at the White House with such chants as "This is what democracy looks like," and "This is our house!"

Most of the students traveled to Washington on a bus sponsored by the "Why War? Think About It" campaign, but several made the all-night journey in personal vehicles.

The Dartmouth students were a small fraction of the protesters who lined the streets from Constitution Gardens near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial down the sides of the reflecting pool and Constitution Avenue in a sea of picket signs, flyers and buttons. Protestors carried signs ranging in tone from, "Bush Kicks Puppies!" to "Your SUV is fueled with the blood of innocent Iraqi children!"

There was a more diverse crowd than might be expected for a Washington protest -- suburban families, church groups and senior citizens were in evidence alongside representatives of national anti-war organizations. Many protestors said that this was the first protest that they had ever attended.

Beyond the standard signs and banners, several protestors rode in vehicles rigged with loud sound systems chanted their messages to the government. Others dressed in business suits and did elaborate performances to express their anti-war views.

The rally, which lasted for several hours, was less emotionally charged than the march, but the crowd was raucous for the most famous icons, such as Jackson.

"Thank you for taking your place today in the long historic chain of struggle," Jackson said to the crowd.

Most speakers said they were not morally opposed to all war but focused on policy problems that would be created by the war in Iraq. McKinney and others focused on domestic problems such as unemployment, healthcare and education that they claimed would lose even more funding if the United States invades Iraq.

Others, including pro-Palestinian activists and several labor leaders such as International Longshore Workers Union of San Fransisco spokesperson Clarence Thomas used the Iraq issue to bring attention to their own plight.

"Hands off the docks, stay out of Iraq" was the cheer Thomas led the crowd in.

Counter-protestors were scattered and small in number but vocal enough to cause a few minor skirmishes. The two most vocal pro-war groups were a group of nearly 100 from the conservative Free Republic group and a gathering of nearly 50 Iraqi immigrants from the Detroit area who shared their reasons for ousting Saddam Hussein.

Some protestors represented unrelated groups, including the "Free Palestine" movement, which had a large presence, and several smaller groups such as the "Lower the Drinking Age" movement. But most of the protestors were unified in their ideals against war in Iraq.

The National Day of Action in Washington was planned to coincide with several international rallies against U.S. military action in Iraq. Including events in Mexico, Japan and across Europe.