LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A day after President Bush conceded he might seek Congressional approval for his war on Iraq, over 400 Louisville protesters made it clear that Bush did not have their consent, nor would they be silent in their disagreement.

Students kept up a rhythmic drumbeat behind barricades and mounted police as President Bush arrived Sept. 5 at a $1,000 per person lunch for multi-millionaire Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.) at the posh Seelbach Hilton Hotel. “Can Anne,” people chanted, calling for Northup’s defeat.

The students hailed from Bellarmine University, the University of Louisville, the Brown School and Jefferson Community College. By their side were members of the Citizens Against Police Abuse and the Kentucky Alliance Against Racial and Political Repression. Close behind them were protesters with United Auto Workers signs and a number of AFL-CIO “No Business as Usual “ signs.

A vulture puppet danced in the bright sunshine as the crowd chanted, “Drop Bush, Not Bombs.” Louisvillians spoke their minds with homemade and heartfelt signs, including, “We need the $80 billion here at home to end poverty – not to kill Iraqis” and “Axis of Evil = Axis of Profit,” which was followed by a long explanation of Dick Cheney’s profits by deals with Iraq through Halliburton Corporation. A protester from the Green Party carried a sign deploring the destruction caused by U.S. use of depleted uranium.

A group of nuns from the Sisters of Loretto, some in wheelchairs and several in folding chairs, proudly displayed their peace posters for WHAS-TV, and professors mingled with civil rights crusaders.

The Rev. Louis Coleman of the Justice Resource Center and the Rev. George Edwards of the Fellowship of Reconciliation were there. Some brought their children, others their dogs. Despite the deadly serious nature of the cause, the mood was friendly and buoyant.

Cheered by the large turnout despite minimal organizational work, veteran activists predicted the birth of a new movement in the diversity and energy of the marchers. Those who had attended small vigils for peace in the Middle East rejoiced at the swelling of the ranks.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org