Flotilla to the Pentagon: An update on the anti-war movement

With everything going on it's easy to forget the anti-war movement. Rest assured, they are still fighting the war machine.


With so many other things to fight against these days, you don’t hear a lot about the anti-war movement.

With Trump in office, one day people are in the streets for women’s rights, the next over travel bans, the next over DACA… and then there’s the continual fight over police violence. It’s easy not to focus your daily struggle on fighting against the wars that are still churning body counts on both sides.

Image credit: Zach D. Roberts/NationofChange

Last Sunday, a handful of groups organized a kayak flotilla to send a message to the Pentagon. Not only did they have enough of war – they had enough of the war machines’ pollution. Especially in the U.S. Capitol’s backyard.

Long ago, President Johnson called the Potomac River a ‘national disgrace.’ Since then, the city has done a lot to clean up the river – but along its banks are one of the worlds largest polluters – the U.S. Military. The Washington, D.C. Navy Yard, a growing hip neighborhood with a baseball stadium, contains an EPA designated Superfund site.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

“A Superfund site is any land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the EPA as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and/or the environment.”

It takes a lot to get a site designated a superfund.

Image credit: Zach D. Roberts/NationofChange

The Backbone Campaign and World Beyond War organized the kayaks and provided a quick training in the growing field of “Kayaktivism”.” For many of the 20-30 people that made it to the marina for that clear Sunday, it was the first time they were committing an act of protest while floating.

Image credit: Zach D. Roberts/NationofChange

The Raging Grannies provided songs as they have to anti-war protests as long as I’ve been covering them.

After a bit of organizing, the kayaks and the canoes that would act somewhat as tug boats, pushing stragglers into the needed order, the flotilla was ready to hit the water. One after another they slid into the Potomac, as confused Sunday boaters carefully backed their $30,000 crafts along side the activists using enormous pickup trucks.

Image credit: Zach D. Roberts/NationofChange

Along with the kayaks there was a 10 foot high inflatable Earth that was carried by two kayaks. They clearly had done this before. Most of the journalists that tagged along – had not done this before. The half dozen of us piled on to an impossibly overloaded powerboat that we had to work together to keep from tipping.

It would have been ironic if I made it through Charlottesville to drown in the Potomac. Thankfully I made it through without a bit of water on my cameras.

Image credit: Zach D. Roberts/NationofChange

Finally after some time the kayaks were aligned and the message was raised – STOP WAR ON PLANET. A lot of work for a photo – but it was worth it. With honks and cheers from passing boats the message was sent.

Image credit: Zach D. Roberts/NationofChange


If you liked this article, please donate $5 to keep NationofChange online through November.