Photos by DC photographer Isis
(Washington, DC) The war in Iraq was controversial before US troops first set foot on Iraqi soil, and quite a few groups have formed in the past three years to provide outlets for people who disagree with the policies of the Bush administration.
One of the more unusual of these peace groups is known as YellowCakeWalk, who gather each Saturday from noon until dusk to protest the war. This loosely-organized collection of activists combines street theater, political humor, and serious issues into a form of protest unlike any other in recent memory.
I spoke with Nukular Noodle, the activist around whom the YellowCakeWalk movement has coalesced.
“We have been here since March 2005, and generally have at least a half-dozen people out here in front of this neo-con shrine,” he said in reference to the White House. “There is not a set format for the forms of protest that people develop; we have different small groups of people with all sorts of different forms of protest.”
Nukular, who is by training an engineer, said that the security forces in and around the White House have not been a problem for the protesters.
“The Park Police and the Secret Service have in general been very polite,” he said. “We have also tried to go out of our way to be cordial with them, because they could make our lives very difficult.”
The difference between YellowCakeWalk and other protesters is the emphasis on street-level protest, and weather permitting, they continue their Saturday theater until dusk.
“Some groups spend much more time on the Internet with their websites than on actual street activity,” said Nukular, whose name is an approximation of President Bush's pronounciation of the word 'nuclear.' “We have a website, but we devote most of our time trying to keep the White House as a place of protest.”.
Nukular, who said the an anti-war stance is only a part of YellowCakeWalk’s emphasis, said that the White House is a “low-hanging fruit” that is a natural mecca for protesters.
“There are tourists here from all over the world, and we have placards in 80 languages,” he said. “Most of us speak multiple languages, and we try to engage as many people as possible in conversation. The great part about this is that tourists take their photos back with them, and the message gets disseminated all over the planet.”
Part of the uniqueness of the protest are the wide variety of placards; passersby are encouraged to pick up a sign and take their own photos.
"In this way we encourage participation in the process," said Nukular. "Kids who have never seen a protest before learn that it's OK and normal to express dissent."
Images copyright 2005, Cool Isis
Visit the YellowCakeWalk site at YellowCakeWalk.net