Thousands of anti-war protestors marched the streets of downtown San Francisco Saturday afternoon in a show of dissatisfaction with President Bush’s call to send more troops to Iraq.
Police lined up in front of Old Navy on Market and Fourth streets in anticipation for the march. Protestors amassed around the Powell Street cable car turnaround, while speeches condemning the Bush administration’s handling of the war were shouted out on loudspeakers.
The event coincided with an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., which drew tens of thousands of people, as reported by the Associated Press.
San Francisco’s march was organized by the January 27 Coalition, which is made up of many groups that oppose the war in Iraq. Some organizations from SF State attended, including The International Socialist Organization (ISO), and Students Against War.
“The November elections showed people are against this war,” said Kevil Neel, 42, a member of the ISO branch at SF State. “People in power are more interested in U.S. power, and they don’t want to admit defeat.”
Alex Dempsey, a senior philosophy major at SF State, spoke for Students Against War. He said that he was grateful to be around so many other people who oppose the war, including fellow college students.
“There are no activism classes,” Dempsey, 22, joked about school. “So we taught ourselves by coming out here.”
Protestors started marching along Market Street after 1 p.m. They carried all kinds of signs and props to show their discontent with the Bush administration. One person carried a placard of a skeleton with flapping arms, against a backdrop of fire, which said: “Iran, Iraq, Syria. Not in my name.”
The march flowed down Market Street, turning north on the Embarcadero, before ending at Pier 31, where everyone gathered for more speeches.
Lacei Amodei, 20, a sophomore liberal arts major at SF State, said it’s important to rally so the newly elected Congress can see that people are becoming increasingly tired of the war in Iraq. She is a member of Youth and Student Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER).
“Rallying is a tactical way to stop the war. It takes constant organization,” Amodei said. “People voted Democrats in office to stop the war. There is a peak of anti-war sentiment.”
Amodei said the November elections, coupled with Bush’s State of the Union speech last week, which called for an additional 21,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, gave people the momentum to organize a large protest with a clear message.
“The message is that the war in Iraq needs to stop immediately,” said Forrest Schmidt, 30, an organizer for ANSWER. “It’s against the interests of the people of the United States, and we want it to end.”
Schmidt said that the “corporate war machine” in America spends resources on war, while ignoring the needs of citizens at home. He said that the war isn’t in the best interest of the average worker in America, adding that “corporate America is making a killing” with the war by exploiting Iraq’s resources.
“This demonstration is important,” Schmidt said. “But it’s also a step for a growing movement.”
Jennifer Hammond, 37, of Santa Rosa, came to the rally with her 1-year-old son Nathan, who sat in a carrying case on her back. She said that she drove over with friends to show support for the anti-war movement.
“I don’t have a sign or anything,” Hammond said. “I’m just here so [Nathan] won’t need to come back 20 years later… I hope we can end this now.”