From DC Indymedia:
4800 antiwar activists gathered near Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC on Saturday to commemorate the second anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq with demands to bring the troops home.
A half mile march to Rowan Park saw a colorful group of weathered Vietnam vets, Gulf War vets, military families and thousands of antiwar activists joined together for a common cause. Bring the troops home!
As the procession reached the perimeter of the park, the well-manned police forces were waiting at the many checkpoints. What seemed to be an illegally-imposed search mandate was carried out on every participant in the march in order to gain entrance into the public grounds. The police, assisted by the ATF, patted down each peaceful marcher and swiped each inch with a metal detecting wand. They also stirred through all bags and backpacks. As if this was not absurd enough, the officials demanded the peace demonstrators to lift up every mock coffin which passed through the checkpoint as the officers searched for "weapons". At one point, a well groomed and polite woman chanted a steady mantra of "this is an illegal search and I will not consent to it...I am protected under the Constitution against this search...you have no right to search me, I do not consent". The policemen continued to probe her outerwear with the electronic wand and rustle through her belongings suggesting that they were doing this for her safety. "M'am, we have to check for weapons because of the security threat", parroted the officer. "Sir, the only weapons which are a threat are at Fort Bragg!" she countered.
Upon entry to the park, the crowds found rolling hills lined with umbrellas painted with peace and antiwar slogans as well as a somber gathering of mock coffins in the valley below. Upon the stage were many speakers presenting common messages of anguish, grief, anger, frustration, hope, and strength. The unifying theme was "bring the troops home now".
During the event, a speaker asked the attendees to take 10 minutes to form into small groups with the folks around them and get to know the other through some conversation. It provided a wonderful opportunity which I have rarely experienced at a rally for intimate community building. Interestingly, the small group of 8 individuals which I was a part of was assembled of three others from my hometown, Richmond, Virginia. I had the chance to meet others from my community who I had never met before in a foreign town some 300 miles from home.
It is uncertain how effective the demonstration will be in actually achieving the goal of troop withdrawal from Iraq. This much is true...When we unite in numbers; we carry a force within us capable of the most impossible of changes. If we sustain the momentum from our day out together and imbue that fervor, hope and conviction into the next days, weeks and months of our lives, voting with our dollars, sharing with our hearts, mending with our compassion, we can certainly overcome the ills of this world. Together, we shall overcome.
PHOTOS from North Carolina IMC:
See also a smaller action that same day at the local university, as reported on Arkansas IMC: