Led by a banner reading “Out Now!” around fifty people protested the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq on Saturday. The protest–smaller than previous years–was held in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq.
However, while the protest was smaller, it had a far clearer message than what has been conveyed in the past. The majority of signs criticized President Barack Obama’s policy on Iraq, arguing that his plan to “end the war” has not gone far enough. Protestors drew attention to the fact that Obama plans to keep up to 50,000 troops in the country until 2011–and likely longer–under his recently unveiled Iraq policy.
Other signs called attention to the human cost of the war, reminding people that the price of the war has been paid with the blood of Iraqi civilians. Estimates of the dead range from 100,000 to 1 million.
Police presence was minimal, with two cruisers eventually trailing the march and ordering people on to the sidewalk. No arrests were made.
Participants and organizers were pleased with the turn-out and are planning to protest again this Saturday (3/21) at noon. The protest will meet at Heartside Park in downtown Grand Rapids. People are encouraged to bring signs, banners, noisemakers, and other related items.