Bush Protestors Rain on Inauguraton Parade
Bush Opponents Keep Focus on Iraq War
January 30, 2005 11:34 AM
The 2004 balloting produced yet another controversial election. A Congressional challenge, co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), as well as two legal suits by the Green and Libertarian Parties, questioned the veracity of the Ohio vote, indicating deep divisions among Americans.
Many rallied in Washington D.C. and San Francisco to brave the cold and march in the streets on January 20th, to protest the Bush Administration’s agenda. A Gallop poll on January 15th disclosed 54 percent of Americans now think it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq.
Carrying banners reading, “Fund Education not Imperial Occupation,” and Stop Mad Cowboy Disease,” protesters chanted, “Is it Bush’s world? Hell no! Whose world? Cheney’s World? Hell no!”
Thousands of demonstrators crammed in front of the City Hall rotunda to hear a bellicose address by organizers who oppose not only Bush’s pre-emptive attack on Iraq, but a domestic policy that critics say gave tax cuts skewed toward the rich at the expense of diminished health care and a dearth of affordable housing for middle and low-income earners. Estimates numbered protesters at nearly 5,000.
The rally was organized by International Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), the peace group that helped end the war in Bosnia, resulting in independence from Yugoslavia 10 years ago.
ANSWER organizer Richard Becker acknowledged that now is a transition point with new Bush cabinet appointees such as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, but he expressed no confidence in Bush’s former National Security Advisor for stemming the current spate of daily attacks against American troops in Iraq. He insisted the best way to quell the violence is an immediate troop withdrawal.
Tanyo Mayo, activist with Not In Our Name Project, a rally co-sponsor, said, “Bush held a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other. He promised freedom to the world while trampling [it] here at home.”
But Amy Moise of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate said, “Mr. President, you can’t say you stand for freedom when you strip women of bodily integrity.”
Moise implied Bush intends to reverse Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. She added that peace and reproductive activists need to link their causes in order to achieve a common goal of greater freedom of choice.
But on January 22nd, the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Walk For Life West Coast, a pro-life action took place in Justin Herman Plaza. Walk For Life said their mission is to change the perceptions of a society that thinks abortion is an answer.
Sally Winn, vice-president of Feminists for Life of America, a pro-life advocacy group, addressed several thousand supporters and said, “Abortion advocates have pitted women against their children. Abortion is not a solution but a reflection that we have not met the needs of women.”
Amir Ali, a senior at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, enrolled at SF State for the 2005 fall term as a pre-med freshman. At the anti-inaugural rally he stressed the need for students to drive the military recruiters off campuses and deny the “military machine” of a pool of compliant “grunts.” He accused the military of making false promises of funding enlistee’s education, which often don’t materialize he said.
Carlos Zepeda, an SF State political science senior who is active with the College Republicans, said that critics show disrespect for the presidency by protesting the inauguration. He noted that Bush won the election with a large majority and is deserving of America’s support. Zepeda recognizes the partisanship dividing Americans but believes Bush’s second term will be inclusive of all sides of the political spectrum. He speculated that former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry could play a key role in formulating an Iraq policy and helping to bridge the left and the right if he does not get overzealous.
While police helicopters circled overhead, demonstrators wrapped up two hours of speeches by orderly vacating the Civic Center. A dozen police riding motorcycles on the sidewalk and additional scores on foot, shadowed the procession headed to the Embarcadero, trailed by several police vans.
At a finale at Justin Herman Plaza, the peaceful proceedings were disrupted when some protesters burned several American flags. Alarmed by the flames, police dispersed those responsible but restrained from making arrests. Tensions mounted when ANSWER organizer Gloria La Riva demanded police cease and desist and let marchers self-police. While La Riva did not condone the flag burning, she justified it as a powerful expression reacting to incendiary government foreign policy. The situation deescalated moments later when protesters dispersed at 8 pm.
A summit at the Women’s Building called by the Campus Anti-War Network followed. It aimed at outreach that explained alternatives to international conflict. SF State Students Against War is an affiliate of the network’s coalition. Jeremy Mack, 18, a Hayward High School graduate new to activism, is one of 50 who attended to learn more. Mack said too many lives were lost to get rid of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. He felt the U.S. should not have invaded Iraq, but said it would be wrong for America to leave now.
Sarah Levin, an SF State history junior, sat in at the Administration building two years ago to protest the Iraq War. Levine told the summit, “It’s important for students to voice opinion to inspire others. We actually win reform by getting in the streets.”
ANSWER’s Becker said, “The Civil Rights Movement, women’s liberation and the Vietnam War protests all proved that [social] advances are made when ordinary people got organized and politicians will respond when the movement gets strong.”
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