Rally for Peace – 14 February

Melbourne’s contribution to the international weekend of action against war on Iraq

Melbourne was a bit ahead of the rest of the world this weekend, and set a standard for others to match. No protest here since the Vietnam war has seen so many people take to the streets to express their views. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people of all ages, and some dogs, crammed a one kilometre stretch of Swanston Street from the State Library down to Federation Square, so tightly it took half an hour and more for this photographer to negotiate a single block. Some idea of the total numbers involved can be gained from the two photos that follow: the first shows a small part only of the crowd already assembled at Federation Square before the marchers began to arrive; the second shows a short section of the crowd in Swanston Street.

Crowd at Federation Square

Crowd in Swanston St

The main rally began at the State Library at 5pm, but before that there was a student protest beginning with a concert followed by a march from Federation Square through the CBD:

Students march

Meanwhile another march, of trade unionists, set off from Trades Hall to join the rally at the State Library:

Unionists setting off

Unionists arriving at State Library

Unionists arriving at State Library

Once the grounds of the State Library began to fill up, only aerial photography could have given an adequate picture:

Part of the crowd

Puppets of all sizes were prominent, many of them not flattering to Prime Minister Howard and US President George W. Bush:

Bush pulling Howard’s strings

Though this is one simply had a message:

Large puppet with badge: No Bombs

RAC and other groups were there to make the important connection between war and refugees, including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre:

Banner of ASRC

As the march made its way down Swanston Street it was impossible to keep a tally of all the banners and groups represented. Here are a few:

Silent Witness

Pagans for Peace

Imagine Peace

Actors for Refugees

Federation of Community Legal Centres

White shrouds, bringing up the rear

And even when the protesters had all gone, the message remained :

Redmond Barry statue at State Library left holding No War placard