Anti-War Protest Draws In Thousands
The masses rally against the Iraqi war at the Civic Center
March 22, 2006 6:29 PM
A concealed individual draped in a black headed mask and black linen robe stood in stillness over a wooden box wearing a price tag constituting the cost of war on his/her wrist. The price read $9.8 billion per month.
The masked demonstrator was just one of 25,000 people at the protest entitled, “Money for Jobs and Education, Not War and Occupation," at the Civic Center on March 18, at 11 a.m. The masses filled the Tenderloin district, 4th, Market, and Mission streets, voicing their concerns against the U.S. presence and war in Iraq with anti-war songs and signs, flags and caricatures, while marching to the sounds of drums in the background. The protest was locally organized by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism).
"We believe the U.S. must get out of Iraq," said Nathalie Hrizi, 25, a liberal arts major at SF State, and student organizer for the coalition. "Billions of dollars are being spent, it is up to $300 million a day, just for the occupation in Iraq."
"So, we are really calling an end to this (the war) because it is an illegal and brutal occupation that deprives Iraq their right to determine their destinies. At the same time, it is sucking resources from our communities," she added.
During the march, protesters chanted and yelled, “What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Now.” On Larkin Street, the Raging Grannies, a group of elder women and a man, sang “War is not the way," on the side of a street curb.
Nearly 20 police officers, with protective helmets on hand, lined themselves across the 600 block of Eddy Street. Other officers sectioned off traffic, stalling cars at the traffic lights as the march moved through the streets of San Francisco.
Ishaub Enjoube, a warehouser employee, waived a large Palestinian Flag through the air.
“I am here today because I don’t agree with what the U.S. is doing for many years now," Enjoube said. "You don’t attack people because you want what they have or bully them with armies. People are less than property,” she added in reference to the Iraqi war.
March 19 marked the third anniversary of the war in Iraq. In September 2002, the Bush Administration urged the United Nations to take a stance against an Iraq’s possession of weapons. In November 2002, the United Nations embarked on weapons inspection in Iraq and awaited Iraq’s agreement to the search. By March 17, the United States declared war if Saddam Hussein did not leave Iraq in three days. On March 19, 2003, the United States launched missiles in Baghdad, as UK and U.S. troops entered Iraq by land.
Within the three-year span, the Iraqi war listed over 2,000 U.S. troops dead, over 17,000 U.S. troops wounded, and an estimated 30,000 plus Iraqi civilians killed, according to the Brookings Institution. There are currently 136,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
“I want her out (of Afghanistan), but she still has to give until January 2007,” Manuel said.
In addition to the U.S. policy in Iraq, protesters also marched against international policies with Philippines and Haiti, as well as local issues, such as, hotel employee contracts. On O’Farrell Street, hotel workers stood behind their banner urging people to boycott the Hilton hotel.
After about two hours, the protesters filtered back into Civic Center and dispersed near the main stage.
For more information on the ANSWER Coalition, visit www.answercoalition.org.
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