It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve just returned from the Peace March in Sydney. At the moment, a number of news websites are estimating the crowd at only 50,000, which is totally ridiculous. As the Mardi Gras crowd is usually estimated at half-a-million, I’d argue a more realistic figure is at least that, and probably a lot more.
The crowd is obviously much larger than the organisers had estimated, since many thousands (including myself) couldn’t actually get into Hyde Park and stood, instead, on neighbouring streets.
The speeches were long and some were unecessary, which led the crowd to call for them to cut short and for us all to “get marching”. There was also a strong anti-Israeli element in some of the speeches which I personally felt a little uncomfortable with. Although I’m a great supporter of the Palestinian cause, I don’t think you achieve much by attacking Israel (or perhaps I’m just a little naive?).
There were some good slogans, including “Somewhere in Texas a village is missing an idiot.” I also liked “Bisexuals For Peace”, commenting to Colin, “Well, at least they’re sure about one thing!” :)
Perhaps because of the immense size of the rally, the march took on a life of its own. At one point, we stood for about half-an-hour not moving at all. And although we were supposed to stop at Town Hall, the march continued on its own way, taking over many of the city’s streets, and was up near St Mary’s Cathedral when Colin and I decided to call it quits.
AFP is reporting up to 10 million people waving banners and chanting anti-war slogans jammed streets across the world today to oppose US plans to invade Iraq, in one of the biggest global peace protests in history. In London as many as two million demonstrators, according to organisers’ estimates, snubbed Prime Minister Tony Blair’s support of Washington, while Italians said a massive ‘no’ in a rebuke to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s backing of the hardline US stance.
Going to the march I didn’t really think it would make a difference, because we’re already committed. But who knows… maybe I’m wrong… maybe this will make a difference… maybe it’s more than symbolism.