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From the Open-Publishing Newswire
HUNDREDS HIT THE STREETS IN EUREKA
Hundreds of people from all over Humboldt County, California took to the streets of Eureka on Saturday, March 15, in solidarity with worldwide marches for peace and justice, and against the US government's threatened invasion of Iraq.
By BRIAN COVERT
Eureka, Humboldt County, CA -- Hundreds of people from all over the county marched in the streets here Saturday to protest the US government's threatened invasion of Iraq, and to speak out for justice and peace.
The march started in the otherwise quiet suburban neighborhoods of the county seat of Eureka, and ended several hours later at a jam-packed rally at the city's Old Town waterfront district.
Paul Cienfuegos, an Arcata activist and one of the organizers of the event, estimated early on that the number of people who gathered that afternoon may have reached in the thousands, possibly as high as 5,000.
The protesters, representing all segments of society, chanted, sang, shouted and hoisted signs and flags as they marched more than a dozen blocks to the rally. They left no doubt as to their feelings on the Bush government's threatened attack on Iraq.
Peter LaVallee, mayor of Eureka, told the crowd at the rally that people must use their voices to speak out louder than ever. The newly elected LaVallee had recently come under fire for relocating an American flag from the city mayor's office to another part of the building.
Messages of support from State Senator Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) and Congressman Mike Thompson were read to the crowd. Both politicians blasted the Bush government's drive to war.
Shamara Wyllie, a student of Eureka High School and founder of the school's African-American Club, told those assembled that her inspiration to speak out and get involved is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rabbi Naomi Steinberg gave a prayer in Hebrew, and equated the defense of human rights with protection of the forests, which are currently being ravaged in Humboldt County by logging companies.
Vietnam veteran and activist Brian Willson, relating his firsthand experiences with the horrors of war, called for a transformation of social and spiritual values in these times of crisis.
One sign-bearing protester finds a calm place beside a residential flowerbed (foreground), as hundreds of protesters gather under rainy skies Saturday morning at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium for the noon kickoff of the march.
A street-level view of the festive marchers, led by Vietnam veteran Brian Willson (on modified bike), as they wind their way through the suburban neighborhoods of Eureka.
Police officers on motorcycles provide an escort for the march along rain-slickened I Street, heading north. The police presence at the march appeared peaceful and cordial, and no incidents of harassment were reported at press time.
A view from over the shoulders of the "Women in Black," during their vigil at the Humboldt County Courthouse, as they wave and cheer to the oncoming marchers across the street (upper left).
A few dozen or so pro-war folks line up along the curb in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse, waving American flags and jeering at the anti-war demonstrators across the street. The anti-war marchers, however, vastly outnumbered them
The foot of the march, as it turns from I Street onto Second Street near the waterfront, with thousands of marchers filling the streets behind for several blocks.
Marchers continuing onto Second Street, with the tail-end of the demonstration nowhere in sight from here.
Final destination of the march: a rally at the Gazebo square at Second and F streets, near the waterfront.
Protesters jammed around the pagoda-shaped gazebo to listen to songs and speeches through the afternoon.
A look at the crowd from the Gazebo.
Cheryl Seidner, tribal chairwoman of the Wiyot nation, was one of the first to speak. She led the crowd in a prayer for peace and respect for all living things.
Two Native American brothers performed honor songs, and encouraged those gathered at the rally to respect the wisdom of elders.
Some of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of people who jam-packed the Gazebo area. A few shops nearby temporarily closed their doors for business.
The crowd at the rally had the Gazebo surrounded.
A few of the signs and placards displayed throughout the afternoon.
Dr. Abdul Aziz, professor at Humboldt State University in nearby Arcata, told those gathered at the rally that there is nothing in either the Christian Bible or the Islamic Quran that calls on followers to kill others.
A protester waves an upside-down flag as a sign of protest. An upside-down flag is also the traditional S.O.S signal of a ship in distress.
A protester's placard found lying in a bush at the Gazebo reads "The biggest terrorist of them all!"-- symbolizing the sentiments of many hundreds who marched and rallied in Eureka on Saturday.