Report on Nader visit to Riverside, No War on Iran vigil
Our "No War on Iran" event on Saturday, September 27, 2008 was a good vigil, drawing 51 people (including several media people, some with notepads and some with cameras of all sizes). We held good-size clear signs that said "No War on Iran," along with a few others, and stood for an hour along Market Street next to Fairmount Park, a very large park at the northwest edge of Riverside. The response from drivers was overwhelmingly positive, with only two hostile responses and hundreds of friendly honks and waves and thumbs-ups.
When Nader had not arrived at the end of the official time for the vigil, most people stayed, though the crowd did dwindle some after a little while in the 95-degree heat. Most of the vigilers were amazingly patient, though about 20 left over the hour after noon. The 30+ who stayed were interviewed by media representatives. About ten minutes before 1 pm, the car drove up with Ralph Nader and two campaign workers, and we cheered.
Ralph Nader was photographed with some of the vigilers in front of the big "Riverside" sign along Market, and we withdrew about 200 feet from the road where Nader spoke to us in the shade. He gave an excellent summation of the reasons why we should not "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," and criticized both of the Corporate Party nominees for their remarks about Iran during last night's debate. (Several of us were pleased that he had plainly spent some time considering what he would say to us, and it fit right in with the purpose of the vigil.) He then spent a few minutes ranging over some other national and international issues, and answered several questions after that. (35 people heard him, though there were audio and video recordings by media people, so more presumably will hear bits of what he had to say.) His assistants drew the time to his attention, he moved off to the car escorted by eager fans (autographing some items as he went), and they zipped off to San Diego.
Despite the long wait, the event was plainly considered a success by the participants. 50 was a very good attendance in Riverside, and even 35 was OK by local standards. And quite aside from the number in attendance, the media attention was excellent. One reason is that Obama and McCain are skipping our county entirely during the campaign, so this was to be the only presidential candidate visit to Riverside. And even beforehand, thousands have read of the event in the paper on on websites, blogs and e-mail lists.
I wore a Peace and Freedom Party tee shirt, and was interviewed repeatedly on camera as we waited, with questions about the Party. When I got home, I found that I already had an e-mail from one of the vigilers starting the arrangements to show the recent Nader film at UCR. We sold 42 Nader-Gonzalez buttons. All in all, a productive day for the campaign here in the inland area.