Peace Procession in Albuquerque

Mato Ska mato_ska at juno.com
Sat Sep 22 16:47:53 MDT 2001


September 21, saw people in the Albuquerque area responding to the 9-11
emergency call that the US has endured. At 4 PM people were already
gathered at the University of New Mexico Bookstore, long a gathering
point for political activists in the Albuquerque area. Friday, there was
scheduled a Peace Procession through the University community. 200-300
people gathered at the University and listened to speakers and musicians.
Giant puppets were evident throughout the crowd. Peace signs and homemade
signs opposing retaliatory raids were carried by many. The crowd
continued to grow as the rally went on.

Prior activities in the community were sponsored by the UNM Law School
and others at the University. One gathering at the UNM Continuing
Education College was sponsored by the Los Alamos Study Group. Greens at
their monthly meeting for the Bernalillo County party organization spent
some time at the meeting allowing people to express their views and
concerns. All of a sudden, the university became the focal point of the
political discussion revolving around the response of the US government
to the destruction of the World Trade Center.


Cars honked their support as they passed the rally on Central Avenue. And
occasionally people gave those gathered the finger, or yelled "Nuke 'em!"

Groups and individuals at the rally represented a broad cross-section of
the community of Albuquerque. An American born Muslim spoke to the people
gathered about the nature of Islam. Chicano activists wearing berets from
the SouthWest Organizing Committee carried their organization's banner
and led the chant: " We're Shout! We're gonna Holler!  No More Wars for
Oil Dollars!" once the march began. Parents gathered with their children.
New Mexico Greens carried their banner and had a sizable representation
in the march. Vets for Peace carried signs and American flags, as did
others. Young people played drums and danced. And concerned citizens
printed their own leaflets that reflected their own perspectives.

Police were in evidence throughout the day and provided an escort up
Central Ave. to the corner of Carlisle, where the 4 sides of the
intersection were occupied by the demonstrators. One young man climbed a
light pole and sat above the crowd. When the march began spirits were
high and people were proud to be expressing their concerns and beliefs
regarding the perilous situation confronting America. They were not
intimidated by hostile bystanders or motorists, and they made repeated
efforts the explain their perspectives with those opposing them.

As the march walked down the 10 block march, it swelled gaining in
numbers to 400-500 and went from the sidewalks alongside of parked cars
on the streets. An escort was provided by the Albuquerque Police
Department. and a supporter of the march following them in an SUV. The
diversity of the march became evident when one reviewed the length and
breadth of the processions. Chicanos, African-Americans, lesbians,
Greens, Islamic women in traditional garb, marched together for peace.
Young people with dread locks in their twenties gathered with seniors and
baby-boomers with ponytailed gray hair. Everyone was united on the need
to make a definitive statement about the war makers plans for retaliation
and the threat to world peace that these steps would create. All were
united in their grief in the loss of thousands in New York and
Washington, D.C. and no one sought to rationalize or justify the assault
on the WTC.

The march successfully made it up to Carlisle without major incidents.
However, the return trip to campus resulted in several altercations. A
couple of burly bystanders got into an altercation with a large woman in
the demonstration. Demonstrators deescalated the incident and sought to
assure the men that everyone in the nation is grief-stricken and that the
demonstration was not directed against the American people's mourning. As
the demonstration got to within a block from getting back to the place on
campus where it began, police intervened in the march for the first time,
arresting four people as they crossed Central Ave. to the other side of
the street. One former UNM student arrested was charged with jaywalking
and "inciting to riot".

At the same time, police wagons and police in flak jackets and helmets
and tear gas were spotted only a block away from the university. Police
on the campus carried gas masks and gripped pepper spray cannisters in
their hands. People remained for another hour after it became dark, with
the drummers playing and people discussing the days events to bystanders.
Those arrested were released after people organized a march to the police
station demanding their release.

The community of Albuquerque has mobilized since the dreadful attack,
anticipating the administration's response while always uniting with the
widespread sense of shock that pervades the nation today. There is no
issue on the table today except peace. There is no future for the world
continuing on a cycle of escalation. The future is coexistence or
co-annihilation. The choice lies in the willingness and courage of the
people's movements to unite and move forward together for peace and
justice.
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