Gathering together with like-minded activists across the country, about 60 protesters hoisted signs and shouted slogans to protest the Bush administration Thursday afternoon while most Yalies walked on by.
The local chapter of World Can’t Wait, a national group of activists — supported by celebrities and politicians such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Casey Kasem, Sean Penn and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters — organized the demonstration. The event commenced on the corner of Elm and York and the participants then took a brief march around central campus. While some students chose to participate, others expressed mixed reactions to the efforts.
World Can’t Wait planned more than 39 similar demonstrations held Thursday across the nation, but also in international sites such as Switzerland and Kathmandu. The activists called on citizens to drive out the Bush “regime,” WCW Organizer Kathryn Kass said. She said organizers decided to plan the coordinated demonstrations because in the past, similar efforts have proven fruitless.
“The protest as usual is not doing it … it’s time to go to the next step,” Kass said. “The next step is to stay out of work, stop shopping. … Millions of people cannot be ignored.”
Kass and other organizers repeated “The world can’t wait, drive out the Bush regime,” while traffic passed, often honking at the protestors gathered around the busy corner. She said the location was chosen from a list of possibilities presented to the New Haven Police Department. Although the location receives considerable Yale foot traffic, she said the location was not chosen for its proximity to the University.
“I don’t think the focus should be on Yale even though we’re here,” she said. “Would we love to have the support of Yale? Absolutely.”
Passing through the intersection on the way to his Trumbull College dorm room, Isaiah Andrews ’09 said he thought the activist’s method was ineffective although he agreed with the protestors’ sentiment. Protests haven’t worked in the past, he said, and there is little reason to expect that this one will make a difference.
“The protest before the war didn’t work so I don’t think this is going to either,” Andrew said.
Local resident and self-proclaimed Republican housewife Monica McGovern played revolutionary-era tunes on a pipe outside of Au Bon Pain. She said she heard about the protest a week ago and decided to come and show her support. She said she believes the president’s actions have been unconstitutional.
“I am calling for Bush to step down or for Congress to impeach him,” she said “I would like to see him indicted for war crimes.”
Kass said Hurricane Katrina served as the catalyst for this series of protests. She and other activists organized a faux funeral march through the streets of New York City and the reaction from the passersby convinced them that people were ready to organize.
Although the protest is calling for the removal of the Bush administration, Kass said they do not have any concrete propositions for a new government. The protest’s purpose is to encourage dialogue and start people thinking, she said, not to advocate for any specific plans of action.
Most students who passed by the protest on their way through the intersection did not stop to acknowledge the protestors. But Karen Lostritto GRD ’11, who received Bob Dylan “Masters of War” lyrics from one of the protestors, said that while she sympathizes with the protestors’ cause, she does not believe they will accomplish their goals.
“I guess I kind of feel like things are hopeless,” she said.
Although most protesters did not state any affiliation with Yale, some students showed their support. Holding a sign next to local activists, Corinne Sykes ’10 said she expected to see more Yailes participating. She said she felt that it was necessary to show her support.
“It’s definitely important to exercise our right to get our opinion out there,” she said.
Catherine Kim ’07 said that even though the protest was not disruptive, it was not working toward a positive end. Although the mass nature of the protest coordinated with multiple events across the country makes the demonstration more effective, she said actions like writing to a congressman would have a greater effect.
“I’m not sure what kind of purpose standing on a street corner serves,” Kim said. “Something more practical might be more beneficial.”
World Can’t Wait is organizing meetings to be held Oct. 12-14 and teach-ins to be scheduled toward the end of the month.