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Sacramento, California, USA
Ralph Scowden

Saturday, February 15, 2003

In Sacramento, California, several thousand people rallied at the west steps of the State Capitol, where demonstrators converged from many surrounding Northern California locations. Many came prepared with signs and costumes, but my impression is that there were significant numbers who were attending this kind of event for the first time.

There wasn't a lot here for the camera -- the event was a show of support for nonviolent resolution, and an opportunity to learn. From talking with people at the rally and elsewhere, I see that a great many are not closely familiar with the issues (which highlights the question, "What do those opinion polls really mean?"), and that there is much confusion about what is happening and why. Local rallies such as this one give visibility to those opposed to war, and offer a starting point for those seeking to understand.

While the speakers' words were already quite familiar to me, I am encouraged that so many made the effort to turn out this day. I feel strongly that simply showing up is a significant personal action that can make a difference.


The speakers. Many listened for three hours to a variety of speakers. There were so many people and signs that the only way to actually see a speaker was to go all the way up to the front.


The view from the front. A speaker's head is visible, barely, a bit above the center of the photo, and just below the white canopy. This is about as good as the view got, for most people.



My group's convergence point, at the north steps. We didn't see many of our people there -- they just headed right into the crowd!



Further down on the lawn from the above photos. This was quite a large gathering by Sacramento standards. These photos show perhaps one third of the crowd that gathered in the early afternoon.



Music and dancing further out on the lawn. Later, the music shifted to drumming, and the dancing got quite interesting.



Who is this strange man with an oil rig on his head? He belonged to a group carrying signs that read "No war for oil" and, when reversed, "Go solar!"



The capitol dome, later in the afternoon when the crowd had thinned.


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