November 28, 2009
A bizarre scene unfolded amid the festive holiday atmosphere at Westlake Center on Saturday, as men in U.S. military uniforms stormed through the crowd, tossing civilians to the sidewalk and handcuffing them.
It was all part of a "street theater" style anti-war protest staged by opponents of the proposed troop surge in Afghanistan.
The uniformed men and civilians were all acting out their parts, and no bystanders were actually hurt in the holiday crowd.
But many people were caught off-guard by the unorthodox scene only a few steps from Westlake Center, where lines of young kids waited their turn to ride the carousel and shoppers hurried by with their bags.
As the "soldiers" screamed profanities at the "civilians" on the ground, many frightened young children were asking their parents what was going on. Meanwhile, some adult shoppers walked by - seemingly oblivious to the freaky scene.
The protest's organizers, a group called "The World Can't Wait," say they're trying to show what a military occupation is like by re-enacting scenes of soldiers mistreating civilians.
"A troop surge means nothing but suffering, killing ... and it's not in the interest of people living in Afghanistan or the people living in this country," says Emma Kaplan, one of the organizers.
She claimed that President Obama is planning to announce a troop surge on Tuesday that will send 34,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, and that it is up to the American public to stop it.
"People living in this country have a responsibility to stop the crimes of their government no matter who the president is," she said.