WASHINGTON — Thousands of liberal and labor activists rallied in the nation's capital on Saturday and in other U.S. cities, calling for young or disillusioned Democrats to vote in the November elections.
If conservative Fox commentator Glenn Beck's late August rally invigorated tea party enthusiasts to vote for Republicans, many of those who turned out for the "One Nation Working Together" event saw it as their chance to shout back. Rally participants were determined but appeared fewer in number than at Beck's "Restoring Honor" event. Enrique Alvarado, 29, a student from Boston College, charged that tea party activists are "intolerant and racist," and said, "This crowd is a much more diverse and representative crowd of people."
The Rev. Al Sharpton warned activists against apathy. "We've got to go home and we've got to hit the pavement. We've got to knock on doors. We've got to ring those church bells," he said.
More than 400 organizations endorsed Saturday's event, from gay rights groups to the AFL-CIO. They promoted causes that included job creation, higher pay, universal health care, more public school funding, vegetarianism, ending the war in Afghanistan, supporting Palestinians, giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and promoting civil rights protections for gays and Muslim-Americans.
Soraya Gardner of Yardley, Pa., a union member, said she's sick of "the racism, the tea party stuff." She, her husband and her daughters stood with signs reading: "The Coffee Party: Wake up America!" and "Hey Glenn, We're here. You're not. Honor restored. You're welcome."
"Are you smarter than a half-term governor?" read the poster Cornelius Boss of Columbus, Ohio, was carrying, taped to a toilet seat along with a photo of ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Some rally participants said they were considering returning at month's end for the satirical "Rally to Restore Sanity" and "March to Keep Fear Alive," event being staged by Comedy Central hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.