Dancing down the sidewalks to loud funk music,DC Students for a Democratic Society,protested “the war machine” as they were followed by police officers in cars,on horseback and on motorcycles.
The group of a few hundred carried signs that said “Funk the war” and “Student power against empire.”
D.C. police arrested at least two protesters,one for spraying graffiti on a wall,but did not respond to calls for further details.
“Basically the message is war is a waste of our youth,” said Lehana Penaramda,a sophomore at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda,Md.
Penaramda said she knew students who had hitchhiked to Washington for the protest.
Protesters from other groups in the nation's capital Thursday also joined the “dance.”
Some protested the imprisonment of Muntadhar al-Zeidi,the Iraqi journalist sentenced to three years in jail for throwing his shoes at President Bush during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in December.
CodePink,Women for Peace,an anti-war activist group,began the day by protesting for the release of al-Zeidi in front of the Embassy of the Iraq Republic. The women marched,waving shoes in the air and chanting,”What do we want to see – Al-Zeidi free. What would be a pretty sight – Bush and Cheney in jail.”
The group was “no problem,” said Adil Latef,a security guard who stepped out of the building momentarily to watch.
Members of CodePink later joined Our Spring Break,a student-led alternative spring break group dedicated to ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,on Capitol Hill.
A few dozen Our Spring Break students from different colleges and universities marched throughout the city and Capitol Hill using a drum and a megaphone to amplify their message.
Wearing black clothes,white plastic masks and the names of Iraqi and Afghani civilians and U.S. troops killed in the war,they stood near the Capitol and dropped piles of fake money splattered with red paint from backpacks made of black trash bags and duct tape.
“For youth activists in particular it's important for us to recognize that this is our future at stake,” said Harry Waisbren,23,a communication arts senior at the University of Wisconsin. “It's really a fight for our species.”
The students called their protest a “March of the Dead.”
“I like this. I think more stuff like this should be necessary,” said Nicole Frickle,17,a junior at Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle,who watched the protests. “I'm totally against the war. My cousin's been sent to Iraq twice.”
Sarah Haston,17,a senior at Stanwood High School in Seattle and friend of Frickle's,said she thinks her generation is becoming apathetic.
“The oldies are getting old,and no one in our generation is caring,” she said.
Though the weather was overcast and rainy,the group persisted throughout the day,changing direction when police stopped them from going any nearer to the Capitol.
“It rained last March 19,it's somewhat fitting,it's a sad day,” said Robby Diesu,20,a political theory junior at the Catholic University of America.
Iraq Veterans Against the War also protested Thursday.
The group held what it called a tower-guard vigil near the White House to protest President Obama's foreign policy. Participants planned to spend 24 hours a day at the towers through Saturday.