In San Francisco, Protesters March,
Mull Direction Of Next Peace Actions
by Seth Sandronsky
April 14, 2003
In San Francisco on April 12, thousands of people marched to protest the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. In solidarity with anti-war actions worldwide, we stood in rainy, windy weather at the city’s Civic Center, where recent peace rallies had ended.
Danny Muller of Voices in the Wilderness, just returned from Iraq, described the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe there. Barbara Lubin of the Middle East Children’s Alliance criticized the U.S. government’s funding of Israeli death squads that assault the Palestinian people.
Past and future actions against the energy corporations that harm ordinary Americans was voiced by Henry Clark, director of the West County Toxics Coalition, based in the largely black Bay Area community of Richmond.
“Don’t forget the homeless,” shouted a tall man with a walking cast as he hawked the Street Sheet, a paper produced and distributed by those seeking better housing in a city where it is basically out of reach for low-income people.
Amid the stark accounts of wars against regular people at home and abroad, there was levity. For example, a group of women wearing low-cut dresses carried signs that read “Bombshells, Not Bombs.”
The two-mile march for peace and social justice through some gentrifying neighborhoods ended at Delores Park in the Mission District. Along the way, many residents flashed the peace sign and anti-war posters to marchers.
No doubt attendance would have been larger with drier weather. Accordingly, many speakers noted the climate factor, and praised those who did turn out.
At Delores Park, Richard Becker of International ANSWER, a lead organizer of the march, spoke about the strong mobilization of the U.S. peace movement during the past year. This must continue and expand, because the Bush White House plans to wage “endless war” to the majority’s disadvantage, Becker said.
I listened to a veteran activist relate her recent experience with Hispanic youth concerning anti-war activism. Their political consciousness was simultaneously challenging and confounding, she said.
On a bus trip from Davis to S.F. and back, riders announced upcoming local events such as war tax resistance demonstrations. Conversations about the risks of this ensued.
In addition, a group of Davis artists distributed a handout announcing the launching of a new activist paper there to counter 24/7 corporate coverage of war, and more. Francisco J. Dominguez informed us about his anti-war photography now on display at Sacramento City College.
Similar local actions and conversations, no doubt, were and will be taking place across America about “what next” for the peace movement. Here, clarity of language is essential.
Peace activists must, I think, be clear about which “America” is being discussed with respect to war: the ruled or the rulers. Presumably, most Americans don’t want to discuss class society.
However, that may be changing as billions more of our taxpayer dollars flow away from non-military spending to the Pentagon’s occupation of Iraq for the benefit of U.S. energy corporations. Let a thousand discussions of war economics and the ideology that tries to justify it bloom in communities big and small across America.
Seth Sandronsky is a member of Sacramento/Yolo Peace Action, and an editor with Because People Matter, Sacramento's progressive newspaper. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org