Atlanta "Stand With Cindy" Vigil

The Decatur/Atlanta “Stand with Cindy” vigil, that was at the Medlock Plaza and Suburban Plaza intersection in Decatur, began at 7:30. We didn’t get there until around 8 pm. (I don’t think we’ve been on time for anything since H.o.p. was born.) It was storming earlier and I wondered if it would be rained out, but the rain stopped and left us with a hot, muggy night. While we were at the vigil there were a few crashes of thunder and distant flashes of lighting, but nothing developed, thankfully, the rain was done. We would have been naturally inclined, out of familiarity, to stand at Medlock Plaza, but we found a parking space across Medlock Road instead and walking up found ourselves behind a woman who had a couple years ago sung on a CD Marty recorded so we positioned ourselves there. Decatur Rd., Medlock Rd., and Scott Boulevard, intersect at Medlock and Suburban Plazas and there’s always loads of traffic moving through. I once worked near there for a brief while and crossing the street on foot at night could make you feel like you were taking your life in your hands.

A woman came by at one point and said there were 800 of us. It was a fairly spirited showing in that each corner, as traffic stopped, raised candles and signs and interacted with the traffic. Which was easy to do. Because so much of the traffic was responsive, blowing horns, some flashing their own “Stand with Cindy” signs from their windows, raising hands in peace signs. I estimated that maybe 70 percent of the traffic moving through was responsive in a positive way, while my husband says at least 60 percent and probably more than that. It just seemed that everyone was honking and every ambulance that came through (two that I saw) briefly blared their sirens in support, which would get a big roar from the crowd.

Indeed, there was only one overtly negative response on our side of the intersection, at least while we were there. One man who leaned out an open window, yelled something, pointing his thumb down.

I was surprised. Really. That was the only negative response. And it seemed there were people who knew the rally was going on and may not have had time to participate, but perhaps intentionally drove by in order to flash their signs and show support.

Had the vigil been in a more outlying area I doubt the response would have been as positive. Decatur is in Dekalb County and Kerry/Edwards had 73 percent of the vote (200,787) to Bush/Cheney’s 26 percent (73,750).

I can tell you who was and who wasn’t there, at least on our side of the street. On our side of the street the majority of the pariticipants were women and men in their 40s through 60s, and the women in their 50s outnumbered everyone else. So it seemed to me. There was a smattering of teens that looked around 13 to 15 years of age, probably with parents. And at least where we were there were only a couple of children, including H.o.p. A woman had brought along her baby.

Who didn’t show up in significant numbers were people in their 20s and older teens. Where were they? Why weren’t they there? There had to have been more than the very few I saw but they weren’t around us. This was obviously a vigil of more mature individuals.

There were police at three of the corners so I’m assuming the police were at every corner. They stood around their cars, observed but not heard, at least where we were.

Kids get tired. At a quarter of 9 a man came by encouraging us all to be there for the 10 o’clock news. FOX had arrived and would do a story at 10. A woman with a girl around H.o.p.’s age said her daughter was melting, tired, and they went ahead and left. Other people began to clear out. H.o.p. waved at cars and pretended to whistle. I thought for certain we’d be there at 10:00 p.m., but at 9:30 H.o.p. too had hit his melting point. Too much stimulus. He had by then sat himself on the ground and keeping him company I had joined him. Then, eventually he put his hands over his ears and bent his head into my lap, complaining about the loud honking of the horns. An hour and a half of cars continually honking was too much for a seven year old. Marty and I agreed it was time to go.

I took a very few very very bad pics. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s faces. And I couldn’t go running around taking shots of different views of the intersections because I didn’t want H.o.p. following me out into the street, which he would have wanted to do. It seemed there was enough light when I took them that I hoped some of the crowd pics would come out, but they didn’t.

And there’s H.o.p.

WSBTV’s Channel 2 website has only a very generic, brief story on there being vigils planned worldwide Wednesday night in support of Cindy Sheehan. No local story on the internet. There is a poll. The question is “Do you support the anti-war vigils sparked by the demonstration outside President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch?” As of a little after midnight, the yes votes are running 60 percent at 1975 and the no votes are 40 percent at 1295.

WAGA Fox5 news was there but the website mentions nothing about the vigils. The top story is “Georgia to pay tribute to fallen stories” on Thursday when flags will be lowered to half staff. Then a story of Coretta Scott King’s hospitalization, of the PineIsle Resort and Golf Club closing at Lake Lanier Islands, and of Francouer leading the Braves past the Dodgers.

Nothing on the website of CBS46 about the vigil.

WXIA, Channel 11, has the following story.

Hundreds Turn Out for Peace Vigil

Provided By: The Associated Press
Last Modified: 8/17/2005 10:59:56 PM

DECATUR, Ga. – Several hundred demonstrators turned out for a peace vigil Wednesday in support of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who continues her own vigil outside the Texas ranch of President Bush in an effort to speak personally with him.

Carrying signs decrying “Lots of bloody oil” and a banner pleading “Talk To Cindy,” the anti-war protesters filled four corners of a major intersection in this Atlanta suburb in one of what were supposed to be hundreds of similar demonstrations nationwide.

Among them was Evelyn Allen, whose son, Sgt. Jonathan B. Shields, died after he was accidentally struck by a tank in November in Fallujah, Iraq. She said she plans to go to Texas to join with Sheehan.

“I want to know the truth. Basically, just tell us why they’re over there, losing their lives the way they are,” Allen said in an interview with WAGA-TV.

Patricia Roberts, whose son, Spc. Jamaal Rashard Addison, was killed in Iraq in March 2003, said she will accompany Allen when she leaves Friday for the Bush ranch.

“Hopefully, while we’re there we will be able to talk to the president and get some answers and hear what he has to say,” Roberts said.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a longtime civil rights leader, said “Americans have decided the war’s over, and it’s time to bring the troops home.”

“The best support we can give them is to bring them home,” he said.

Keith Flucis, who was watching the demonstrators, disagreed with their message.

“I think half of these folks, if they were in the Iraqis’ position, and they were being beat and mistreated, they would want someone to come to their aid,” Flucis said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

7 Replies to “Atlanta "Stand With Cindy" Vigil”

  1. very cool shots.

    Who didn’t show up in significant numbers were people in their 20s and older teens. Where were they? Why weren’t they there?

    A significant number of them are fighting the war we oppose…or should be, if they’re of age and support George Bush’s policies.

  2. Matt, it was, as you can see, a huge intersection, difficult to see in the dusk what was going on elsewhere, and a woman says that there were young adults and high school seniors where she was. Still, I think they’re underrepresented. We have Georgia State University here and Emory, Spellman, Morehouse, Agnes Scott. There were other vigils going on in the Atlanta area but I hvaen’t heard anything yet about vigils at any schools and what I’ve thus far heard is that the vigils elsewhere were considerably smaller. It’s the Decatur one that was in the news.

    According to Wikipedia, Emory enrolls around 6000 undergraduates and 5000 graduates. GSU enrolls around 19,000 undergraduates and 7,000 graduates. Morehouse enrolls around 3000 undergraduates. Clark enrolls about 4000. Agnes Scott enrolls about 1000. Spellman enrolls over 2000.

  3. Here in Austin there were several vigils. I went to the one nearest my house, which had a turnout of maybe 300 people. There were a lot of people my age, and indeed much older (I’m 64), and a lot of people who were in their 30s and 40s who had children. Very few university students, though one or two of them dud stand up to speak.
    I think your having it at a big intersection was a good idea. The vigil I went to, and the much bigger one in downtown Austin (about 1000 attendees, roughly) were both in parks, and invisible to passers-by. The one I was at was more like a Quaker meeting than a political demonstration.
    But even though we were invisible to people driving by in cars, we did get some media coverage here.

  4. Yeah, their staging it where they did was great, rather than at a park. The interaction between the cars and people was wonderfully uplifting, to have that kind of constant, unrelenting, postive response, so that instead of just it being the 800-1000 standing, it was also all those passing by. I didn’t do a movie because it was night, and I regretted it afterward because it would have been nice to have the sound file. The constant honking and the supporting cries of the people passing. Very different energy from an isolated park event. It was nice to experience that sense of solidarity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *