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Indybay Feature

Activists Protest Five Years of War

by Liz Highleyman
Several hundred activists hit the streets on Wednesday, March 19, to protest the fifth anniversary of the war and occupation in Iraq. Direct actions took place throughout the day in downtown San Francisco, including a large die-in and mass arrest on Market Street.
Protesters gathered at dawn at Market and Sansome Street and soon departed on snake marches throughout the Financial District.

Direct actions, including blockades and lock-downs, took place at several locations, including offices of Chevron, Bechtel, and the local army recruiting station. Bike blocs took off from Justin Hermann Plaza throughout the morning.

At noon, most of the activists regrouped at Market and Montgomery Street outside the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-SF), to protest her support for the war. The diverse crowd of young and old included members of Direct Action to Stop the War, Code Pink, the Raging Grannies, and many others.

A group of about 50 people conducted a die-in, blocking Market Street traffic for nearly two hours. As the die-in participants were being arrested, another group of 20 activists, chained together and clad in orange jumpsuits and hoods to represent prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, arrived and also blocked the intersection. All were arrested, the last around 2:30 pm.

In all the day's actions through 5 pm, there were an estimated 150 total arrests. At that time an antiwar rally called by World Can't Wait/ANSWER was taking place at Civic Center, with a march to the Mission scheduled to depart at 6 pm.

§Bike bloc participant asks why they can't use the bike lane
by Liz Highleyman
§Police drive bike bloc onto the sidewalk
by Liz Highleyman
§Die-in at Market and Montgomery
by Liz Highleyman
§Die-in at Market and Montgomery
by Liz Highleyman
§Die-in at Market and Montgomery
by Liz Highleyman
§Daniel Ellsberg interviewed prior to his arrest
by Liz Highleyman
§One of the die-in arrestees
by Liz Highleyman
§Arrestees being processed
by Liz Highleyman
§First busload of arrestees is hauled off
by Liz Highleyman
§Brass Liberation Orchestra keeps spirits high
by Liz Highleyman
§Overview of the scene at Market and Montgomery
by Liz Highleyman
§Another of the eventual arrestees
by Liz Highleyman
§Police out in force
by Liz Highleyman
§Act Against Torture
by Liz Highleyman
§Police prepare to arrest anti-torture group
by Liz Highleyman
§Beanbag rifle goes so well with the jumpsuits...
by Liz Highleyman
§Anti-torture arrest
by Liz Highleyman
§Anti-torture group being processed
by Liz Highleyman
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Comments (Hide Comments)
by what happened?
Was everyone arrested early in the day- there were maybe 1,000, 1,500 people at Civic Center. Where was everyone?
by response
I participated in events earlier in the day as well as the 5pm rally, hosted by ANSWER. Many were involved with both, but I also know quite a few folks who prioritized the morning events over the 5pm rally because they looked more effective and/or empowering to some.

by Waard
May be they all realize they only now have to dismantle the war machine to get free of it.
Week nights are not good for peace walks and it was freezing cold as well. The Bay Area has 7 million people yet only perhaps 500 to 1000 participated in the daytime activities, with another 500 or so at noon as observers. The workers in the Financial District who normally fill the sidewalks at noon on Market Street cowered in their offices. When this wrriter did chants on the way to work, all I got was blank faces, not support or joining in the chants. We are dealing with a very backward society that apparently only wakes up when they are homeless or some other such catastrophe hits. The housing crisis has just begun so there will be lots of wake up calls.
by Ilse
Um, there were a heck of a lot more than 500 people at the daytime events. Just look at some of the images of the crowd on the sidewalks at the die-in. If you just take the arrest count, who were a small portion of the group (requiring many police officers to keep the crowd on the sidewalk), that already was busloads of people, totalling nearly 200. If you go to a downtown street and count the pedestrians on a block at one time, it will be many dozens of people. This snake march used up several blocks in the middle of the street, and kept traffic immobilized. A few hundred couldn't do that. Besides which, people were scattered around downtown.
by dunno
Not sticking up for them, and I wasn't there and I'm sure it was less than previous parades they've held, but this photos seems to show a larger crowd filling at least center of civic center.
by Mario
More people than ever now oppose the war. Sure a few idiots may have been taken in by the '' MIssion (sort of ) Accomplished '' rhetoric that the ''surge '' ie esclation, is 'succeeding '' but i doubt if any of those were ever really opposed to the war.
Another good sign is that more and more people see that Iraq and Afghanistan are interlinked , that the latter isn't a ''good war'' and '' a war worth fighting '' (Obama )
But despite that the rallies, and demos aren't growing in size , they're shrinking . There is something wrong here . Is it because of the regular Curse of the illusions in the Democrats , that despite the fact that neither one promises to withdraw even by 2013 that they will end the war ?
Is it, as Liberal and social democratic critics of groups like A.N.S..W.E.R. , maintain that it's because the rallies should be strictly ''single issue '' and not bring ''divisive '' issues like Palestine, Afghanistan , and speakers talking about Imperialism into it .
Is it because most people , even urban working class, don't really feel that impacted by the war because most of the troops are from rural small town areas and/or very conservative knee jerk pro-military families ?
I don't know . But i do think there needs to be some intensive brain storming, discussion , debate about how to go forward.
I would suggest a Antiwar Congress of some sort , structured in a way to minimize the danger of it be dominated by any one tendency or organization .
What do others think ?
by Correction
What's not clear from that photo is that the people were only between the tree area, and only about halfway to the back. It's very carefully cropped to make it seem like there's a lot of people extending out in all directions, but that's about it. I doubt there were even 1,000 people at the rally.
by Sunni Ruiz
Mario's comments are very well put . I second his motion for a '' Antiwar Congress'' being convened . I was handed a flyer at the rally about a National Conference in Cleveland , Ohio . But i'm not sure how broad it will be.
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