One account of the day...

"March 19 as a day of protest was unprecedented in many ways. First, we were more successful in having people come to Washington DC on a weekday while business was being conducted. I personally know many people, teachers, therapists, lawyers, artists etc. who took a Sick Of It Day to come to DC to join together in the streets. Second, this was a multi-generational effort both in the organizing for and participation in the day. We had hundreds of students, many taking their Spring Break coming from different parts of the country. The students formed the largest contingent, Funk the War, shutting down the streets in many places. Third, we asked that people come prepared to participate in creative direct action and we had hundreds ready to risk arrest. The authorities knew this might have resulted in the largest mass-arrest in DC since the invasion of Iraq and so they refused to arrest people even though many were shutting down streets, and others like the Vets had chained themselves to the National Archives in order to defend the Constitution. However now we have used the opportunity to form a larger network with many more people trained and ready to participate in direct action.


The March of the Dead offered a profound experience for people to join and to encounter. Many who participated have said how moved they were to participate and spoke of the power of the procession. The documentation has been great by both mainstream corporate and independent media and we know has been seen all over the world. We began at Arlington Cemetery where we lined up in single file. People joined us who we met for the first time. A woman came with her 9 year old daughter who wanted to join us. The young girl put on a mask and the name of a 10 year old Iraqi child. This was a heartbreaking moment. We left Arlington after hearing a poem read by an activist poet (documented on the Washington Times site with sound) and proceeded over the memorial bridge to a site where we overlooked the Vietnam War Memorial. Here the names of the dead were read for 5 minutes in memory of 5 years of illegal occupation. Next we went to the State Department where some of us formed a frozen "Endless" War Memorial at the entrance. As we were leaving there we heard a round of applause from the employees that had come outside to watch us. We proceeded to K street and stopped at a building to mark where Blackwater lobbyists have their offices. We took a break and then converged again at the White House where we began to form a silent walking meditation-circle of suffering. This circle kept growing as more and more people joined us. This was quite powerful and documented by many. We left there and passed the Veterans Administration where the Granny Peace Brigade had been knitting stump socks to call attention to the wounded. I noticed that there was a major police presence there, large men in black, armed with automatic weapons. Quite a contrast against the grannies and the procession of the dead. As we continued on to the Justice department we were seen by three young women riding on a bus who then got off to catch up and join us. They put on masks and took names and entered the procession. At the Justice Department, soaked in the pouring rain, we each read the names we were carrying. I read the name of Darrius Jennings, the son of my friend Elaine Johnson. We then took a last break before finally meeting at 5pm at the Reflecting Pool at the Capitol. Here we were joined by hundreds of people in masks, wearing names and others in black who were part of the procession as mourners. The march now stretched on and on. In a single file, solemn procession we began to move toward a phalanx of police who were in cars, on motorcycles, on bikes and on foot. They didn't know what we were going to do and we didn't know what their response would be. At that moment our power though was in our numbers, our unity and the powerful silence we kept except for one mournful drummer. We marked the Capitol and the site of the congressional buildings with our presence, the sorrow and outrage felt at the perpetuation of these crimes and the gross injustice. We spiraled into the street at Independence avenue and some of us created a final "Endless" War Memorial until 36 of us were arrested. On a final note: when I had gone home to dry off earlier I had reluntantly taken off the name of Darrius Jennings because the placard was soaked. I dropped it in one of the many bags of names and randomly took another, an Afghani civilian that I wore for the end of the day. After my arrest, just by chance I was put next to a young student as we stood in handcuffs waiting to be placed in the vans. I looked over at her and out of over a hundred names that had been made she wore the name of Darrius Jennings. This was a culminating moment for me, expressing the magic and power of the day and the March of the Dead. I had come through the day with the memory of Darrius Jennings by my side."

Laurie Arbeiter, 2008