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Richmond IndyMedia Live! Every Tuesday, 12:30 - 1PM on 97.3 WRIR LP-FM, and streaming online from wrir.org!

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Today nearly a thousand people turned out to protest the war on Iraq in downtown Richmond. The crowd was spirited and diverse. Organizers with several progressive groups took turns at the mic rallying against the Bush administration's agenda of militarism, racism, greed and deceit (not to mention homophobia and Christian fundamentalism).
#file_2#Ana Edwards spoke on behalf of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality. Throughout the march, she could be found handing out flyers about her group's opposition to the proposed baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. The stadium would replace the historical marker the City has just decided (at the Defenders' urging) to place at the point of Gabriel's hanging (see defendersfje.tripod.com). Gabriel was a slave who organized what would likely to have been the largest slave rebellion in American history, right here in Richmond. But the uprising was undermined by informants and bad weather. And Gabriel was hung on Broad street along with several other 'conspirators.'
Protesting and rallying for justice in the capitol of the Confederacy is still an idea that goes against the grain. Despite the fact that Richmond is predominantly black, public discourse is dominated by the historically racist and arch-conservative Richmond Times-Dispatch. In conjunction with other corporate powerhouses, such as Ukrops and Ethyl Corp, city politics and development resides firmly in the hands of a white corporate power structure. One only needs to look at the At-Large Mayor campaign of ex-governor Wilder to see yet another seat of power annexed by rich white conservatives. It's an example of the corporate status-quo jumping from a relatively progressive but ineffective Mayor (McCollum) and circumventing human need to consolodate power and funnel money to rich investors.
This is why grassroots movements like this weekend's march are so important to Richmond's future. If the people are ever going to set this city's agenda, we are going to have to popularize the tradition of speaking out against domination. Today, the issue was the billions of dollars being sent to Iraq for war, while our city so clearly needs funds for jobs and education. Those who spoke out today, marching to the Times-Disgrace HQ, the CACI war profiteers, and the State Capitol, are trying to spark a trend of grassroots revitalization, instilling hope and empowerment in a city where change often comes slow and begrudgingly. But the desire for change seems to exist in the City's constituents. The march tapped into positive feelings for those who turned out and many who observed from their cars or along the sidewalk. The vast majority of bystanders cheered, honked, and raised their fists chanting "Down with George W. Bush" and other slogans.

Everyone who was touched by this march has a story to tell. I hope all who read this site, will post your thoughts on today's events as well as any pictures you took. We can't count on the Times-Dispatch to represent us with they're penchant for racism and bigotry. One of our local TV channels even saw fit to hover over our march, drowning us out with a noisy helocopter (or perhaps it was the police).
This is your city. Use your voice.
Be loud and be proud.

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