Thousands Play, Meditate, Dance, and Discuss in the Name of Peace
September 10, 2006 2:22 AM
Mix international musicians, yogis, and political speakers along with heaps of dancing revelers for an annual party in the park and you have a modern San Francisco tradition at full steam.
The festival, themed “Be Peace Now,” sought to remind attendees that they need to create peace and amicability within their own lives before a new era of global non-violence will arise, according to musician and organizer Michael Franti.
“Today is a sort of spiritual grounding I use in the struggle for world peace so I don’t get depressed,” Franti said, walkie-talkie in hand, in between doing yoga and headlining with the San Francisco-based band Spearhead.
The event featured a 9 a.m. thousand-person yoga session, hip-hop acts Blackalicious and Radioactive, DJs Adnan and Maneesh the Twister, slam-poet performances, a slew of social justice and environmental organizations, along with a chilled-out healing arts geodesic dome providing massage and bodywork inside.
Franti, who lives in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point District, said PTTP is a blueprint for other peace activists worldwide to spread progressive political messages in order to energize the public and transform the lives of people in developing countries and war zones.
Ironically the festival used "9/11" in its title from its inception to symbolize an emergency need to bring justice and peace to the world. After the attacks in New York the name was seen as even more appropriate, according to Guerrilla Management, the event's production company, which has always held the festival in early September.
Calls for peace, the end of global war, and plenty of poignant jabs at the Bush administration ranging from the comic to the more blistering came from an array of speakers, including Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), former manager of the Grateful Dead Sat Santokh, and the famed nemesis of FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly, Jeremy Glick.
Glick, whose father died in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, gained notoriety for debating O’Reilly on live television on Feb. 4, 2003 over the U.S. response in Afghanistan to 9/11 until O’Reilly booted him off the show.
Each speaker also discussed the war in Iraq or the conflict in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine. Two had very personal connections to the ladder conflict.
Robi Damelin, an Israeli from Tel Aviv, lost her son to a Palestinian sniper’s bullet and Nadwa Sarandah, a Palestinian of East Jerusalem, lost her sister to a Jewish settler’s knife. Both women are members of the Parents Circle Families Forum, an organization of more than 500 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families. They stood together and embraced.
“We want an end to the cycle of violence. This will not only help Israel and Palestine, but the entire world,” Sarandah read from a prepared statement.
U.S. veterans also took part in the afternoon.
“Iraq is a Gen-X and Gen-Y war, we need to get the young people of the country to speak out against it,” said U.S. Marine Corporal Sean Huze, who enlisted for the Marines on Sept. 12, 2001 and later saw combat in Iraq.
Thousands of U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning home to find the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs overwhelmed with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, and many are ending up on the street without services, according to Huze.
“I believed in the mission when we went to Iraq,” Huze said, “but now I see that WMD was not true, al-Qaida link was not true, and imminent threat was not true.”
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