Moveon.Org Organizes Events In LB And Nationwide In Support Of "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan
(August 17, 2005, updated Aug. 18) -- Roughly 200 people attended an audibly quiet but visibly incensed vigil at the corner of Bellflower Blvd. and Carson St. in East Long Beach tonight (Aug. 17), organized by moveon.org in support of "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan.
Ms. Sheehan, whose son was killed in military action in Iraq, continues to hold a vigil outside President Bush's Texas ranch seeking to meet with the President. Ms. Sheehan, who was politely received by President Bush after her son's death, has since voiced views harshly critical of U.S. policy and Bush in particular.
The ELB event was one of roughly 1,625 nationwide...which over 50,000 people signed up to attend, said moveon.org prior to the events. The website, which originated to protest the impeachment of then-President Clinton, has developed into a potent political force through its sophisticated and audacious use of the internet.
For this event, moveon.org invited visitors to enter their zip code and with a mouse click, details of all scheduled vigils within 30 miles popped up. Two other LB vigils were listed -- one at LB Blvd. and Broadway (49 registered to attend) and another at Cherry Ave. and Ocean Blvd. (266 registered to attend)...along with events from OC through Torrance and Whittier all the way into L.A.
The host for the Bellflower/Carson vigil, Andrea Friedenthal, said the event was organized in two days via the internet. She told LBReport.com:
I have never sponsored an event before and...I got an email that said here's what we're doing; we're doing vigils for Cindy Sheehan; we need to support her; can you host one in your area? And I thought 'I can do that,' it's a half an hour, I can do that.
And so I signed up and within minutes our get-together here was posted on the internet and thousands of emails went out...it got entered into a database where people could put their zipcode and how far they were willing to travel...
And all the events would come up and then they electronically signed up for an event. I electronically got a list of people who were participating, their phone numbers, their emails. And email messages from them...and I RSVP'd with them, told them what to bring, and two days later here we are with 175 people. [We estimate closer to 200]. It's a miracle.
Some attendees held candles, others carried signs, and walked or stood quietly in front of the Ruth Bach Branch library. We heard multiple cars along the two busy streets honk in support.
[update] We learned after the event that moveon.org even provided local organizers with pre-written placards for download via the internet in pdf form with mainly restrained text. Examples: "Before one more mother's child is lost"; "Bring our children home"; "Stop the War"; "Moms For Peace"; "Moms Vigil For Cindy Sheehan"; "Meet With Cindy"; "Dogs for Cindy."
However, we saw homemade and other signs at the ELB event with considerably more acidic text. [end update]
Below are photos of what we saw:
[Aug. 18 update, 5:25 a.m.] Moveon.org says "tens of thousands" took part nationwide. It adds:
This event will only impact politicians and the press if we can show them what happened. Please don't forget to [email] your photos...after the vigil. Please include the city, state and any other details in the body of the e-mail. If you have a digital video camera and would like to submit footage of your local vigil for inclusion in a possible MoveOn documentary, please send us your footage on MiniDV to [Berkeley address]. Please remember to collect the names and emails of anyone you interview on the video, and please write your name, address, phone and email on your MiniDV submission. If you see media coverage of your vigil or other vigils in your area, please take a moment to let us know. Send us an email with a link (if available) or a brief description including the media outlet..."
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