Philadelphia Labor Participation in Anti-war march in DC
by John Oliver Mason
September 25, 2005 - Members of Philadelphia's Labor community participated in the march against war in Washington DC on Saturday, September 24, 2005.
Buses picked up members in front of the offices of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, 22 South 22nd Street, and at the offices of AFSCME District Council 47, 16th and Walnut streets.
Frank B. Walker, a member of AFSCME District Council 33, said of his participation, "I'm here to try to galvanize support for the poor man and woman in this country. We need representation, we need lobbyists, and we need to know that we matter as a part of this country. We don't want the corporations acting as a dictator controling the country, because that particular special interest does not support our needs or our aspirations, and family life or just being a regular citizen."
The busses arrived near the AFL-CIO national headquarters building, 815 16th Street NW, and a rally was held in the building's lobby, sponsored by US Labor Against The War (USLAW).
John Braxton, one of the bus captains and held of USLAW in Philadelphia, told the participants, " In the Viet Nam war, a lot of Organized Labor was very slow at best to come out against the war, so this is a very exciting development, that major sectors of the Labor movement have come against the war. This past summer the AFL-CIO nationally passed a resolution for a rapid withdrawal of troops. That wording was based in part on the Philadelphia AFL-CIO wording, so we all can take some credit in that." The Philadelphia AFL-CIO was the first Central Labor Council to pass a resolution against the war, and that resolution was a model for other CLC's resolutions.
At 11:30, the march from the AFL-CIO began, down 16th and H streets, in front of the White House, where a security guard was noticed on top of the roof. There were chants of "No maore war." The march went down 15th Street near New York Avenue, and another contingent joined the group, near the Treasury Department building; this group was from American University Students Against the War, and there was much cheering. The chants were now, "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!" the march went down 15th Street past F Street, passing the Hotel washington, appraoching the Washington Monument. At Pennsylvania Avenue, they chanted, "Support the troops, bring them home!", "Drop Bush, not Bombs!", and "Labor says out now!" The march ended at the base of the Washington Monument.
At the demonstration, pictures were lined up of trops killed in Iraq, tied to a string and passed around. One of the key speakers was Cidy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq and drew fame by camping out in front of Bush's Texas ranch demanding an explanation to the war. "This is amazing," she said, "you're part of history, pat yourselves on the back for being here!" she said to the protestors. "We need a people's movement to end this war. Our good friends in the media aren't doing their job, most of our friends in Congress aren't doing their job, and George Bush certainly isn't doing his job. So we have to do our job, as Americans. If nobody else will hold him accountable, we will! We'll do our jobs! We'll be the checks and balances of this out of control, criminal government! This government that condones torture-we don't torture, we're human beings, we don't torture other human beings! We have to reclaim our humanity! We have to show the world that Americans don't think it's okay to torture another human being!"