was freezing cold. The cops kept most people from
reaching our Irish-Americans Against The War
contingent. I couldnt hear a word any speaker
said. And it was a wonderful day.
started for me at about 8:30 in the morning when I
got on the subway deep in Brooklyn. The closer we
get to the rally, the more crowded the train became.
When we finally got to 51st Street, the stop for the
rally, it seemed as if the whole train got out.
I was struck by how young they all looked - most people
seemed to be in their early 20s or even younger.
I overheard one woman say they had brought five buses
from a college in upstate New York at least three
or four hours away. Many people were carrying hand
lettered signs with slogans like No War for
Oil and Impeach Bush.
reached the corner where our Irish contingent was
supposed to assemble about 10:15. Only a few of us
were there, which wasnt surprising since we
had advertised it for 11. We were right behind the
Friends of WBAI - the community radio
station that broadcasts Radio Free Eireann.
10:30 the cops told us we had to move over to First
Avenue where the rally was assembling or they would
arrest us. We got as far as 53rd Street, still two
blocks north of the speakers platform, but that
was as far as we could move. This was still almost
an hour and a half before the rally was supposed to
few people managed to find the Irish contingent, mainly
by way of mobile phone. A U.S. army veteran wore his
medals on his beret. A former nun, who is helping
to coordinate the St. Patricks Day parade that
includes Lesbian and Gay organizations, talked about
being a pacifist and the inspiration of the Berrigans.
One woman, whose activity stretches back to the Northern
Ireland civil rights movement, said to me I
thought we werent going to have to march anymore.
By the time someone with our banner reached us, there
was no room to unfurl it.
before the speakers started, you could see nothing
but people when you looked north on First Avenue.
We later learned that the crowd went all the way from
51st to 72nd Street, where the cops blocked tens if
not hundreds of thousands of more people from joining
around us was amazingly friendly. They all seemed
to just be happy to be there and inspired by the turnout.
We kept turning to complete strangers and saying how
great it was. People were handing out leaflets for
every imaginable cause and event but most people were
just taking them good naturedly.
most people seemed very young but there were a good
number of middle aged or even elderly folks there
as well. The people around us were mostly white, but
on the next block there was a large hospital workers
contingent that was almost entirely African-American
a couple of hours of standing in the cold, we made
our way to Rocky Sullivans Pub - re-christened
Iraqi Sullivans for the occasion - where we
watched the rally on the TV and listened to it on
WBAI radio. As the afternoon went on more and more
people from the unsuccessful Irish contingent wandered
in. There were fierce dissident side by side with
people who still have a certain allegiance to the
Provos and others who are just human rights activists.
Some of us hadnt seen each other for years.
Others had never met before.
just kept telling each other how great it was and
marveling at how many people turned out. The cops
would later claim it was only 100,000 but not even
the media believed them. One cop told a reporter 500,000.
There were probably more like a million counting everyone
who was blocked from reaching the actual rally. Well
never know, but it really doesnt matter. What
matters is that we succeeded in sending Bush the message
that Americans dont want his war.
All in all, it was a great day to be a rebel.
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