23 July 2005

Downing Street Memo, Los Angeles event

I just came back from the Los Angeles event, which took place in the primarily African-American city of Inglewood, near the airport.

As I arrived, I could see several groups setting up booths outside. There were Democratic clubs from various sections of Los Angeles County, as well as the Code Pink women dressed in pink slips and a few socialist/communist groups too.

The venue was a church, and it was very well air-conditioned; I actually needed my suit jacket until people started packing the place in. The event began with a movie where Bush's rationales for war were debunked, one by one.

The event was hosted by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who had a very fiery speech highlighting her anti-war record, and praising fellow Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland, who was the only member of Congress to oppose the Afghanistan war resolution, saying that it gave the President too much power. She named many members of Congress who were participating in her Out of Iraq quorum, including Dennis Kucinich, Barney Frank, Mike Honda, Raul Grijalva, and others.

A rapper by the name of Willie B. livened things up between some speakers.

There were many speakers presenting today. Among them were a half-Indian, half-Sri Lankan man who was opposed to the war - and lamented his ancestral countries' heavy participation in corporate sweatshops. There was a Methodist reverend who fired people up by emphasizing that the corporate media should not merely be hated, it should be changed by the people. There were high school students who were conscientious objectors of war, who did a sit-in against the war even despite the school administration's pressures to make them quit. There was a mother of a soldier, who was commemorating the second anniversary of her son's death tomorrow. There were many others but they are all blurring in my memory.

The crowd was very diverse, though I would have preferred to see more of Los Angeles's huge Asian community. (Perhaps they ARE indeed so right-wing.) Very visible were the Code Pink women in pink slips with messages about Bush and Rove, and a large number of veterans of America's foreign wars, from WWII to Kosovo.

I did not get to mingle with the crowd too much - because I wanted to come back to post this for my blog and for the Democracy Cell Project blog.

The participants did an impromptu phonebanking targeting media companies. Each participant was given a list of five media contacts to call using a cell phone. I was able to leave a message with the Washington Times (yes, the Moonie paper) and CBS Morning News.

In the end, this was a huge success, with over 1,000 attendees. Although none of the mainstream media came, C-SPAN and Pacifica Radio (90.7 KPFK FM in Los Angeles) were among the media outlets covering the event. Even though I didn't network much (yes, I am shy in real life), I did have a good time - being away from my Republican suburb is in itself a good thing.