THRONGS PROTEST - NO WAR!
As many as 120,000 people marched along Market Street to the San Francisco Civic Center to send a very clear message to Washington DC - the people united do not want the United States to engage in a full blown war with Iraq. We want peace and better economic times.
Veterans who march say the last time they saw such a crowd was when the Viet Nam war was on and which many felt the government was wrong in engaging that war - which this Nation lost on many fronts.
Joan Baez was there and so were many local and national leaders - their message was clear - we have no business fighting and killing innocent people in Iraq. Most agree that Sadam Hussein is NOT a good leader but the message again is that innocent children, women in Iraq should not die in vain. This talk of war is all about OIL!
Matt Gonsalves, Jake and Tom our local Supervisors spoke all in favor of protecting our First Amendment Rights. This coming Tuesday they promised San Francisco will send a clear message and denounce the Patriot Act which is most unpatriotic anyway one looks at it.
The INS took a heavy beating and speaker after speaker denounced the unfair treatment given to those immigrants who should be treated fairly, were innocent, and did not deserve the foul treatment many have suffered in jails and long incarceration.
Rev. Cecil Williams and Actor Sheen praised Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and encouraged all to follow in his steps. This march was also meant to celebrate the achievement of that great Civil Rights leader. There was lots of music and dancing - the Aztec dancers performed behind the stage and in front of some few anti-protest group on the steps of City Hall who were no match against the 120,000 gathered to denounce the policies of this current administration.
Many felt that we have not finished our mission in Afghanistan. After spending a billion dollars a month for months on end in Afghanistan - we have NOT captured Osama bin Laden.
Kabul and a small 3-mile radius around it is all we have full control off. WarLords rule the rest of Afghanistan and daily pot shots are taken at our soldiers. Our women and men from the Services should not be put in harms way - anywhere.
We could have finished our mission the last time around in Iraq - but we did not during Desert Storm and Shield. This time around most feel our leaders want the OIL and that is plain wrong.
Hours after the events started on the stage in front of City Hall, this January 18, 2003 - thousands kept marching on Market Street. The march was very peaceful. After the march there were two or three incidents where a few rowdy elements smashed some storefronts in the financial district - this is plain wrong and went against the philosophy of this peaceful march.
San Francisco Police Department turned out in full force and maintained law and order. Helicopters flew over the crowd and the organizers too had one of their own to monitor the numbers attending the march. They were spotters on top of City Hall checking out the crowd and I spoke to some SFPD who were doing their best to keep most things under control.
Most roads had heavy traffic bumper to bumper long after the march was over. MUNI buses many back to back were packed and one could see hundreds waiting to catch a ride at the many MUNI bus stops. It was a sign of the times - people are fed up with war and this Administration has crossed the line on this one. No More War!
Marching were people from all walks of life - these were every day people sending Washington DC a clear message - stay out of Iraq and bring some economy stability at home. Let us fix our problems at home before we dare mess with the affairs of others thousands of miles away. The young and the old marched and there was some unique calmness and strong sentiment unseen before - NO WAR IN IRAQ!
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