Despite the big-name cancellations and the preconvention police raids, organizers expect thousands of anti-war demonstrators to march this afternoon from the State Capitol to the site of the Republican National Convention.
They say their passion will not be dampened now that President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are skipping their convention speeches because of Hurricane Gustav. If anything, they say, the storm enhances their message that investing in human needs must outweigh waging an expensive war.
But the protesters are also concerned that aggressive police tactics could cull their numbers, which they estimate could reach 50,000 today.
“Even if the two main actors in the U.S. war in Iraq won’t be there, that will not deter people from sending a loud message to the Republican Party and the country that we need to use our resources on human needs and saving people at home, not killing them abroad,” said Meredith Aby, a Minneapolis organizer working with a coalition of 130 anti-war groups, labor unions and community organizations to plan today’s march.