On Saturday, a large protest was held in downtown Grand Rapids at Calder Plaza. Dubbed “Bodies Against the War” the protest was a “die-in” designed to raise awareness about the number of lives lost during the Iraq War. The attendance was somewhere between 100 and 150 people, making it a decent sized protest for Grand Rapids standards.
However, the local corporate media certainly did not take the event seriously. WZZM 13 and The Grand Rapids Press both covered the event, but neither paid much attention to the point of the protest–the human cost of the Iraq War. The protests all wore white t-shirts with the number “133,241″ stenciled on them to represent the number of lives–both United States and Iraqis–lost in the war. The group used a combination of sources to arrive at their estimate, one that is quite conservative given other prominent estimates of civilian casualties in Iraq. Other estimates have placed the civilian death toll between 650,000 and 1.1 million. However, rather than use this mention of the war’s death toll to discuss casualties in the Iraq War, the two articles downplayed it. WZZM 13 never mentioned the number the protestors used and the Grand Rapids Press
Instead of covering the major issue of the protest, the media focused on whether or not it was “patriotic.” The Grand Rapids Press talked to a soldier that participated who said he was not being “unpatriotic.” WZZM 13′s article featured a lengthy quote in which one of the organizers said that soldiers “appreciate” the protest. They quoted her saying “We also get told that this is what they’re fight for, the freedom to do things like this and to stand up and say what we see as an injustice and to question what’s going on. This isn’t about a disrespect for our soldiers, this is about a respect for them and questioning whether their lives should be risked for the politicians’ agenda, basically.”
WZZM 13 Article:
“People Lie Down in Protest of Iraq War
One group in Grand Rapids used chalk outlines of bodies to help get their point about the Iraq War across.
About 200 people took part in the Bodies Against the War protest in Clader Plaza Saturday afternoon.
The participants dressed in white shirts painted with a number representing how many have died in the Iraq war, both Iraqi and American.
They then laid down in the plaza and drew chalk outlines around the bodies.
the group says they want people to think critically about the war and question the intent behind it.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is people walking by can realize this is what it looks like to have people lying on the street every day,” said Justin Krenselewski, one of the protesters. “This is what it looks like to go to work next to dead bodies every day.”
“We get told by soldiers all the time that they really appreciate us doing this,” said Juliea Paige, one of the organizers. “We also get told that this is what they’re fight for, the freedom to do things like this and to stand up and say what we see as an injustice and to question what’s going on. This isn’t about a disrespect for our soldiers, this is about a respect for them and questioning whether their lives should be risked for the politicians’ agenda, basically.”
The Grand Rapids protest was modeled after a similar one done in California.”
The Grand Rapids Press Article:
“Protesters give Iraq War the silent treatment
by Jim Harger
GRAND RAPIDS — This was not their grandfather’s Memorial Day parade. Nor was it their parents’ peace protest.
More than 100 people, most of them in their 20s, lay on a sidewalk in front of Calder Plaza on Saturday as part of “Bodies Against the War,” a demonstration aimed at protesting the war in Iraq.
Most wore white T-shirts on which they spray-painted “133,241,” their estimate of the total death toll for civilians and soldiers in the Iraqi conflict.
Justin Krenselewski, who served in the U.S. Army from 2003 to 2006, said he wanted to honor some of his buddies who had died in Iraq and protest the war.
The back of his T-shirt read: “When War is Declared, Truth is the First Casualty.”
Krenselewski, a 23-year-old surgical technician, read the names of 157 Michigan soldiers who died in Iraq. Meanwhile, the demonstrators lay prostrate on the sidewalk.
Afterward, the group staged a silent march to Rosa Parks Circle.
Matt, who declined to divulge his last name, said he was a U.S. Navy seaman on leave. He wore a T-shirt that read: “War is Young Men Dying and Old Men Talking.”
The 26-year-old said he was not being unpatriotic.
“I don’t fully support the war, but I stand behind my Commander in Chief,” he said of President Bush. “I believe it’s patriotic to support the Americans who died protecting our freedom.”
Kevin and Sarah Martin, both 23, brought their 3-week-old daughter, Poppy, to the demonstration.
“I thought it was important to show that women and children and the death that occurs to them in war,” Sarah said. “It’s not just soldiers. It’s women and children and families.”
Kevin, an electrician’s apprentice, said the event was a “combination” war protest and Memorial Day service.
However, one of the rally’s organizers said the timing was a coincidence.
Juliea Paige, a 28-year-old artist from Georgetown Township who organized the rally through online pages on Facebook and MySpace, said she did not realize the event would fall on Memorial Day weekend until about three weeks ago.
Inspired by a similar rally in San Diego, she hoped to draw between 250 and 1,200 people. Nonetheless, she was pleased with the turnout.
Chris Denton, a volunteer for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, handed out pamphlets stating the Illinois senator’s opposition to the war.
Though he was there to register voters, Denton said he had found only four people not already registered.”