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Obies Take It to Freedom Plaza

About 200 Oberlin students traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the September 29 antiwar and anti-racism demonstration. Among them was sophomore Gabriel Graff, who went armed with his camera.

The original focus of the protest was to oppose the global financial policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, that purpose was altered.

The largely peaceful demonstration was held in Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington. Police estimated the number of demonstrators at 7,000, according to The Washington Post, while organizers set the number at 25,000.

The Oberlin students marched as a group to Freedom Plaza, Graff said.

"We marched without words to a beat pounded out against plastic tubs and trashcans. We marched with our signs and our puppets, and we were greeted with cheers by the mass of protesters who engulfed Freedom Plaza," Graff said.

After the three-hour rally, the group marched again, "past the Capitol, past riot police (who looked relieved to be dealing with a peace protest rather than the IMF/World Bank protest), past a few counter-protesters. The march ended with dancing and announcements, and with police chasing people off trees," Graff said. While some students have been frustrated by the Bush administration's pursuit of war, "protests are rarely about success," Graff said. "They involve putting yourself out there again and again in an attempt to be heard."