Surprisingly, two of the organizers from the “Oxy Out of U’wa Land” group
came over and objected to our signs. They explained that OOUL was trying to
protect the land of a South American tribe called the U’wa--a “deeply
spiritual” tribe--and that they might be upset if any Atheist signs appeared
in any pictures of the event. It was even suggested that we put the American
Atheists banner away during their opening speeches, and that American
Atheists join the march at the end. We politely, but firmly, held our ground
and the dispute ended amicably.
The temperature climbed steadily while we waited for the march to begin. We
were joined by Ed Gauci, who had flown from San Jose to attend the event, Ken
Bonnell of Atheists United, and newcomers Jonathan Winn and Robert McNally.
Reporters from several news organizations interviewed us, including the Wall
Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, and the LA Times. As the OOUL
group began their opening ceremonies, which included a performance by
enormous paper mache puppets, we unfurled a second American Atheists banner,
which read “Their Religion--Our Money--No Way!”
The march got underway around 10:00. The American Atheists contingent
marched jubilantly with the crowd, carrying signs with slogans such as “No
gods in government,” “No Faith-Based Partnerships!” and “Not Every Taxpayer
is a Christian--Recognize Religious Diversity.” While the downtown streets
seemed almost deserted, Tom Maley handed out flyers to the people who dared
to watch the spectacle.
Tom is 75 years old and has a bad leg.
He marched the entire route, handing out more flyers
than anyone else.
We’re lucky to have “Terrific Tom” Maley on our
The march ended in a parking lot adjacent to the Staples Center. While
speeches were being given on a stage, we posed for pictures and spoke to more
reporters, including the Chicago Tribune, the Jerusalem Post, and Slate. The
event wrapped up with a performance of “For What It’s Worth” by singer Bonnie
For American Atheists, the event was without incident. From our perspective,
the police were alert, but relatively calm. However, as we left the area we
saw a battalion of police running for Pershing Square. Later we learned that
10 people had been arrested that morning, and what we saw while we were
leaving was the beginning of a face off between protesters and police,
prompted by a protester who had “bumped” a police officer with a banner.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the event. While our contingent
was small, it was determined. Unfortunately, many people who had planned on
attending were unable to make it, quite possibly due to the notorious Los
Special recognition must be given to Stuart Bechman. Stuart acted as our
local contact for the event, keeping in touch with the police and
demonstration organizers to determine where and when we could protest. It
was an extremely difficult task because the protest arrangements were very
unsettled and constantly changing. His tenacious efforts made our
participation in the event possible. In addition, Stuart not only marched
with our group, but also he stayed for the two marches scheduled for the
afternoon as well.
We have pictures from the
Republican Party Convention Protests too.
© 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by American Atheists.