Though Sunday morning Austin residents woke up to dreary skies and wet streets, the rain failed to stop peace protestors who marched the two-mile stretch down South First Avenue from Gillis Park to the Austin City Hall Plaza.
Austin Against War group member and rally organizer Mac McKaskle said he thought Sept. 11 was the perfect day for citizens to unite for global peace and mourn those lives lost due to violence.
About 60 protestors, from young children to veterans, attended the peace rally. Banners, picket signs and flags with peace logos floated beneath the roof of the crowded pavilion, One participant strummed on a guitar “This Land is Your Land.” Supporters honked their horns as activists passed and held up peace signs out of their cars. Protestors chanted the familiar, “Give peace a chance” song as well as a more updated version of the tune which included the words, “Drop Bush, not bombs!”
Activists, such as Nancy Meyer of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and UT journalism professor Robert Jensen, spoke about global peace at a festival where the march ended.
“On Sept. 10 there was pain and suffering of a world manifested by power. There is nothing special about Sept. 11; there is nothing special about our pain in this country. It mattered no more or no less than the pain and suffering of the rest of the world that day,” Jensen said. “We cannot contribute to the lives lost by innocent civilians because of a corruption of power.”
At the rally, Meyer, a family member of a Sept. 11 victim, expressed frustration with American policy. Meyer’s sister-in-law Lauren Catuzzi Grandeolas, a UT graduate, was killed on United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
Meyer said the losses experienced by other families of Sept. 11 victims were well-documented, but people have forgotten about the suffering of Iraqi civilians and others whose grief has not been publicized.
“By attacking without cause, the U.S. government has become the terrorist,” Meyer said, who encouraged the withdrawal of troops overseas and encouraged peace as a solution to violence.
For anti-war activists, Sept. 11 became the perfect day for peace advocates to mourn not only the tragedies from four years ago, but the lives lost because of the invasion of Iraq.
“I’m not so much a pacifist, I’m against imperialism,” said David Morris, a peace protestor and veteran of America’s occupation in the Dominican Republic in 1960. “The war I fought in was an imperialist war, and the war we are in now is an imperialist war.”