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National Day of Action, San Francisco, Photos
Over 30,000 people marched in San Francisco Saturday, October 27, 2007 to protest the illegal wars in Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere waged by U.S. Imperialism.
Thousands march, "die" and rally in SF anti-war protest
Jim Doyle,Susan Sward, Chronicle Staff Writers
Saturday, October 27, 2007
(10-27) 17:17 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- On cue from a bullhorn's blast, thousands of protesters fell to the pavement on Market Street today in a symbolic "die-in" as part of a protest staged in cities across the country against the war in Iraq.
For about three minutes the demonstrators lay on the pavement, representing what organizers said were more than 1 million Iraqis killed since the war began in 2003. The protesters then resumed their march from San Francisco's Civic Center to Dolores Park.
March organizers put their number at 30,000 - old, young, workers, students, religious leaders. Police declined to give a formal estimate, but onlookers said the demonstrators definitely numbered more than 10,000. They filled up Market Street for several blocks, shouting that U.S. troops should be brought home and carrying banners decrying the war.
At the head of the marchers was a band of Native American drummers who pounded a steady beat as protesters chanted, "No more war!"
Before the march began, demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall to hear speakers berate the Bush administration and call on Americans to stand up against the war. Organizers said part of the reason for staging this protest was to mark that it is now five years since Congress voted to authorize the use of U.S. force in Iraq.
"Silence shows compliance," Nicole Davis, a leader of the Campus Anti-War Network group, told the crowd at the San Francisco event, which was organized by the Oct. 27th Coalition of several groups, including ANSWER - Act Now To Stop War and End Racism. "If you disagree with this war," she added, "it is your duty to stand up and let the world know."
Sarah Sloan, an ANSWER spokeswoman, said her group estimated the size of the crowd "based on the number of blocks - about seven - that the march takes up and the density of the crowd."
In New York, thousands demonstrated in the rain, marching to Foley Square. In Chicago an estimated 10,000 protesters gathered at Union Square Park and marched to the Federal Plaza. Organizers said anti-war rallies, sponsored nationally by a coalition of groups headed by United for Peace & Justice, also took place in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Jonesborough, Tenn., Philadelphia, Orlando, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Boston and other cities around the country.
"It would be one thing if it were just San Francisco, but it's not," Jim Haber, a Bay Area chapter representative of United for Peace & Justice, told The Chronicle when describing the national scope of the protest.
"We've helped organizers mobilize their communities in places like Jonesborough, Tennessee, and Salt Lake City, which you don't typically associate with anti-war demonstrations. This underscores the broad opposition to the war in Iraq."
At Dolores Park, hundreds of boots were placed in rows on the lawn to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq. A name tag was attached to each pair of boots, and many of the boots had flowers placed in them.
At the park, demonstrators listened to speakers, including American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks and anti-war activist and congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan, who asked people to vote for her instead of her opponent, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Banks told his audience: "As I look out over this crowd, I see many young people. That gives me great hope." He said it was the young and the students during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s who took to the streets to help pressure the United States to end the war.
Anne Roesler, of the group Military Families Speak Out, said her son was a U.S. soldier who had been deployed to Iraq three times and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. "This is Congress' war," she said. "They have the blood of this war on their hands - they are building their political careers with the blood of our loved ones and Iraqis."
Clarence Thomas, past secretary-treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, said, "We have to take a lesson from the civil rights movement. We have to wake up and understand we are all in this together."
In the throng of San Francisco demonstrators was a trio of Code Pink members, including one attired as the Statue of Liberty, who belted out, "I am going to sing until the world is free, down by the riverside." One group, the Raging Grannies, entertained the crowd with protest lyrics sung to classic songs such as "Anchors Away." Labor groups made a special effort to turn out their members, with hundreds of workers showing up - among them sign installers, teachers, roofers, nurses, security guards and communication workers.
Sharon Cornu, secretary-treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council, said it would be the first time that seven Bay Area labor councils - San Francisco, Monterey Bay, North Bay, South Bay, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda - worked together to urge members to demonstrate.
Though Bay Area labor groups have been involved in earlier protests against the war, Cornu said, this was the biggest effort yet. "More and more union members are seeing the war's impact on our schools, transportation and health care systems because money is being spent abroad that could be spent at home," Cornu added.
"We are working people - we make things in this country, and we want to be heard," said Oakland roofer Leroy Cisneros, echoing Cornu's words about the pressing need for expenditures on education and health care.
Another protester, nurse Wendy Bloom from Children's Hospital in Oakland, said, "Our priorities are distorted. We are spending billions on an unnecessary war instead of health care."
In the days before the protest, organizers used the Internet to spread their message with anti-war videos, including a two-minute short by the Culver City-based Brave New Foundation that called on people to "bring your families, your neighbors, your dogs" to the protest.
Another two-minute video entitled "Confront the War President" featured wrenching snapshots of the Iraq war's dead and dying, grieving relatives and the wounded. It included film clips of President Bush in interviews - one in 2006 saying, "To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong" and another in 2004 stating: "I am a war president. I make policy decisions here in the Oval Office on foreign policy matters with war on my mind."
those are brown berets from watsonville, not modesto
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