Steve Sharp’s Vista Peace Vigil
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE…
September 11, 2001 — New York City
Regardless of what you were told and what you believe happened on that fateful day of 9/11, those events led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, sending US military troops into in a war that would seem to have no end. Al Qaeda, an organization whose origins are found in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, was blamed for the coordinated attacks, and its leader Osama bin Laden. The George W. Bush administration attacked Afghanistan in retaliation and was pressing to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq under the pretext of its having weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Numerous peace groups formed all over the country to brainstorm how to forestall the invasion. On Labor Day weekend, 2002, almost exactly a year after the assault on American soil, the local Neighbors for Peace and Justice group began a protest vigil at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Vigil Avenue, Hillhurst Avenue in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles, California, an asterisk where three streams of traffic crossed. More than one hundred people showed up over the ensuing several months, between 5 and 7 p.m. every Friday night, and attempted to elicit support from passing vehicles.
In March of 2003, US troops invaded Iraq. Disheartened, the numbers of protesters began to dwindle and within another year there were barely a half-dozen of them left. Eventually the numbers dropped to one: Steve. Since that time (except for a year-long hiatus that began with the 2020 shelter-in-place order in Los Angeles as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic) Steve has returned to that corner in front of the Vista Theater in Los Angeles every Friday night, barring injury, illness, inclement weather or vacation. He carries a sign and implores oncoming traffic to “Celebrate Peace” and “Spread Love” (initially Steve had wanted to say “Spread Compassion” but the word was too long to fit legibly on the sign).
Watch “Honk for Steve,” an inspiring film festival documentary, and peruse the myriad images taken over the years of Steve Sharp’s one-man Promotion of Peace vigil below.