It is one thing to protest the Bush war stampede in Washington D.C., San Francisco or at a city – or county-wide march; it is quite another to demonstrate on a street corner on your home turf – before family, friends, neighbors and local businesses. Street corner peace vigils are popping like microwave popcorn.
Just up the street from our house is a major Pittsburgh intersection, Forbes and Braddock Avenues. It started with a couple of young women and now is a steady group of about 20. There are no meetings, no permits – all are welcomed. There are just announcements on poles, a squib in the newspaper and word of mouth. For about an hour, every week, we encourage motorists to “Honk for peace” and they do. It is loud.
One thing about the peace sentiment, there is no vehicle demarcation. BMWs, mini-vans, police cars, buses, cabs, pickup trucks, salt trucks and plows, Hondas, Chevys, Escorts, Saturns, semis, late model cars and those from the last century lean on their horn, flash the peace sign, wave, hold up their fist or give a thumbs-up. Only once in a great while does a motorist get ugly.
“Skip the war,” shouts a group of students as they skip through the intersection when all traffic is stopped for pedestrian crossing. Motorists smile, laugh and envy youthful energy in the cold and flurries. The students high-kick and someone counts heads to make sure all are safely back on the sidewalks. There are patches of ice on the street.
The “impeach Bush” signs are popular.
We are just getting to know one another. For an hour we hold up our signs and banners, focused on opening an outlet to the people to proclaim peace. At the end, we just hurry off to get warm. Slowly, faces nestled deep in scarves and hats are becoming familiar, names exchanged. There are new people every week, veterans of the intersection and folks who miss and return. This week a Methodist minister and a Catholic priest took their spots on the corner. We look like a neighborhood.
Neighbors and friends stop, roll down their windows for a second to “Say Hey!”
This week, there was a minor kickback. Some guy showed up wearing a box, apparently just a large cardboard box, with nasty name calling printed on it. He ran through the group and people just stepped out of his way, ignoring him. He looked grim. He started yelling and someone reminded him that children were present and there is a noise ordinance. He got bored and left.
Meanwhile, horns blew and motorists waved, not knowing what to make of the man in the box.
Like thousands in Savannah, Ga., and Minneapolis, Minn.; Las Vegas, Nev., and Nashville, Tenn., and Tampa, Fla., and Kansas City, Mo., we are staying on the corner, in the neighborhood, for all to see, until the troops come home and the Bush war drive ends.
Denise Winebrenner Edwards is a member of the Editorial Board of the People’s Weekly World and a Wilinsburg Borough City Council member.
She can be reached at DWinebr696@aol.com