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Related Categories: Iraq | Anti-War
More Than 5,000 People in San Jose/Silicon Valley Say No to War
by Louise Auerhahn (louise [at] mailhome.com)
Saturday Feb 15th, 2003 10:24 PM
In the city's largest rally in over a decade, more than 5000 demonstrators took to the streets of San Jose, CA and joined the rest of the world in a vast and unprecedented wave of protest aimed at preventing war on Iraq.
Today more than 5000 demonstrators took to the streets of San Jose, California and joined the rest of the world in a vast and unprecedented wave of protest aimed at preventing war on Iraq. In the largest San Jose rally in over a decade, people from babies in strollers to great-grandmothers filled twenty blocks of Santa Clara Street with chants, music, and handmade signs, and converged on Cesar Chavez Plaza, where leaders from all segments of the community spoke, sang, and even danced in a powerful message of unity and opposition to war.

Among the speakers were Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who read an antiwar statement from herself and fellow Congressman Mike Honda, and County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, who spoke about the local impacts of war which led her to sponsor the recent Santa Clara County resolution opposing an Iraq war. Both urged the audience to keep up the struggle for peace in their daily actions, with Lofgren emphasizing the importance of considering candidates' records on the war in the upcoming 2004 elections.

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, also encouraged protesters to continue their actions beyond that day, tying international to local issues with a call to participate in the annual spring march honoring Cesar Chavez and in an upcoming Sacramento rally to fight education budget cuts. Claudia E. Armenta of Students for Justice took up the issue of military spending versus school budgets as well, leading protestors in a chant for "education not annihilation!" Other speakers included Helal Omeira of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Antonieta of Latinos Against the War, combat veterans George Johnson and Dennis Kyne, Jeffrey Samson of the Filipino organization Bagong Bayan, Rodney Gonzalez of CWA Local 9423, Lindi Ramsden of The Interfaith Council, Wendy Greenfield of South Bay Jewish Voice for Peace, and dozens more.

The march and rally were spearheaded by the local community group South Bay Mobilization to Stop the War, with the support and endorsement of more than 37 local and national organizations, from the San Jose Peace Center to the South Bay Islamic Association to Silicon Valley De-Bug. The protest was organized in solidarity with similar demonstrations which took place today in at least 603 cities around the world, drawing millions in an unprecedented worldwide cry for peace.

Organizers say the protest succeeded in drawing people from all walks of life in San Jose - not just the peace activists who regularly make the drive up to protests in San Francisco. Proclaimed Raj Jayadev of Silicon Valley De-Bug, "San Jose is different." Cultural performances showcased local talent, from folk singers to Spanish guitar music to hip-hop and breakdancing. Said vocalist Tiffany Ente in the final performance of the day, "Even though we're coming together to prevent the war, it's also a celebration of solidarity, because we've come together as a community."
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