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Thousands join in left-leaning rally in Washington

world Updated: Oct 03, 2010 08:16 IST

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Thousands of civil rights, environmental and peace activists and union members gathered in Washington on Saturday in what was seen as a show of force from the political left one month before congressional elections.

The protest under the title "One Nation Working Together" was aimed at encouraging enthusiasm for civil rights issues, and featured speakers such as the Reverend Al Sharpton, organizers said.

The demonstration on the Mall in central Washington advocated for "job creation, quality education and justice" and many attendees called on the government to do more to jump-start the weak economic recovery.

"We are here to let the government know that they need to care more for us," Joyce Foster, a member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, told DPA. "We are as a whole, a country, needs more being done for the people."

Although organizers claimed that the protest was non-partisan, US media portrayed it as a demonstration supporting the Democrats and many of the crowd said they hoped it would rally Democratic supporters to come out in force in November elections.

Most of the groups which participated - including gay rights, environmental, faith, and student groups as well as the black rights group the NAACP - are associated with President Barack Obama's left-leaning party.

"We are the people that put him in office and we are happy with a lot of things that have happened but there are still some things that we are still unhappy with and we wanna be heard," said Lenny Bass, who drove from New York with his two sons to attend the rally and carried a homemade sign reading "More jobs, less wars".

"We wanna remind you that we put you in office, that we are your base, this is the message that you delivered and we want you to follow through," he said, directing his comments to Obama.

Nov 2 elections to chose members of Congress and many local officials are widely seen as a referendum on Obama's first two years in office, and much of the attention has focussed on anger on the political right.

The Mall, a large grassy park extending from the US Capitol and lined with museums and memorials, was the site just weeks ago of a rally called by conservative TV commentator Glenn Beck. That rally along with the rise of the conservative Tea Party movement, emphasized growing conservative dissatisfaction with the country's leadership.

Many political commentators have noted the Republican Party's base has been more active than Democrats ahead of the vote. Saturday's rally was seen as a chance for the political left to reinvigorate itself and energize potential voters.