[Scenes from a Protest] Shouts of "liberty" echoed off the engraved concrete of the Salt Lake City and County Building as yesterday's Peace and Human Rights Rally dispersed from Washington Square Park. Revolutionary folk anthems boomed from giant speakers on the building's steps--Bob Dylan's "Blowin in the Wind" to Conor Oberst's "When the President Talks to God." Banners reading "THINK: It's Patriotic," "War is Not the Answer," and "Bring the Troops Home Now" slowly migrated toward cars parked up and down State Street.
The rally, organized by former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson's High Road for Human Rights organization, brought some of Salt Lake's most disparate elements together with one collective war cry: "FUCK GEORGE BUSH."
Punk rockers, soccer moms, hipster students, tie-dye-clad dads and one adorable little kid who kept running in front of speakers in a Bush/Bullshit shirt gathered to give old GW a warm middle-finger welcome. Sadly, the president couldn't make it down as he was busy devouring a $30,000 plate of corporate schmooze and stealing Jamie Gadette's Avenues neighborhood parking spot.
From Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, speakers (and chant leaders) took aim at the current administration's assault on the U.S. Constitution. And with all those hours of individual brooding slowly catharsisizing their way into the warm Salt Lake evening, the motley crowd proved that a couple of angry people, getting together with a couple more angry people, really can inspire hope for change.
"It's like Joe Hill, the great labor organizer, said before he was executed," counseled Anderson, still shaking hands and taking pictures with supporters 30 minutes after the event, "don't mourn, organize."