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Police estimate of SF rally 42,000; organizers say 80,000

Pretty good story from SF Chronicle--some will decry it for being corporate--Must keep your eyes on the prize.
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Published on Sunday, October 27, 2002 by the San Francisco Chronicle
S.F. Peace March Draws Thousands
Huge Rally Joins Protests Across Globe to Decry U.S.' Iraq Policy
by Wyatt Buchanan, Christopher Heredia and Suzanne Herel

Tens of thousands of protesters marched down Market Street in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon in a major demonstration against President Bush's policy on Iraq -- the largest peace rally police and protesters could remember since the Vietnam War.


Tens of thousands of demonstrators march through downtown San Francisco on Saturday to protest a potential war against Iraq. Demonstrators filled about a mile-long stretch of city blocks as they marched from the Financial District to the plaza in front of City Hall holding signs that said, "Money for jobs, not for war" and "No blood for oil." Associated Press photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez

Police estimated the throng at 42,000, while protesters said more than 80, 000 people joined the 11 a.m. march, which began at Justin Herman Plaza and ended with a rally at the Civic Center.

The event drew marchers from as far away as Arizona and Washington state. They carried signs with such slogans as, "Drop Bush, not bombs," "You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace," and "Grannies against dead children."

The marchers were protesting Bush's threat to wage war with Iraq if its government refuses U.N. arms inspectors unconditional access to potential weapons facilities.

Elsewhere, tens of thousands of like-minded protesters surrounded the White House, and rallies were staged in Rome, London, Mexico City, Tokyo and elsewhere. San Francisco police reported no arrests in the march, which was initiated by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

A number of Saturday's marchers also bore placards in memory of Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, the liberal Democrat who died Friday in a plane crash in Minnesota. Wellstone had voted against allowing the Bush administration to use military force in Iraq.

Two people traveling to the protest in a modified school bus were critically injured Saturday morning when they poked their heads out of the bus' roof as the vehicle passed through the Broadway Tunnel.

The crowd, which included a smattering of dogs and at least one parrot, poured into Civic Center Plaza for more than an hour to the beating of drums and angry war denouncements shouted from the stage erected in front of City Hall.

Speakers included U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; folk singer Utah Phillips; actor Amy Brenneman and Green Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo.

OUTRAGE AND WHIMSY

The plaza swarmed with people perusing booths purveying food and political pamphlets, and the mood among protesters ran the gamut from outraged to whimsical. Some carried signs declaring Bush a terrorist, while others urged America to play baseball, not war.

Vendors along Market Street hawked "Axis of Evil World Tour" T-shirts featuring Bush, Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, guaranteeing passers-by that the $15 memento would become a collector's item.

Chela Fiorini wore a Lady Liberty costume with a crown made of corporate logos and waved to the passing masses on Market Street.

Her husband, Dave Coennen, dressed as Bush, perched on a fake rocket behind a puppet representing Vice President Dick Cheney.

The couple had driven from Los Angeles for the event.

"At this point, you have to laugh your way through it or you're going to have a complete meltdown," Fiorini said.

There was no noticeable heckling at the march, and only a couple of pro-war signs. "Finish the war in Iraq -- kill Saddam," said one. The other said: "Saddam kills mothers and children."

Robin Benatti of Oakland marched into Civic Center Plaza carrying a yellow bumper sticker reading, "No war in Iraq."

Benatti said she didn't consider herself a political activist.

"But I feel very strongly against this," she said. "I figured if I didn't come out here, who would?"

She needn't have feared.

Police in riot gear lined the front of the barricaded state building, one of three buildings fenced off along the route, the others being the U.S. Federal Reserve building and the Gap.

Many marchers posed for pictures in front of the police line, flashing peace signs or flexing their biceps.

Several hundred members of a group called Direct Action surprised police by breaking off from the crowd and heading down the Embarcadero toward the Bay Bridge. They didn't want to be hemmed in by the organized rally, members said.

Meanwhile, a contingent of employees from the Cheeseboard Collective Bakery in Berkeley walked around with baguettes in the shape of peace symbols mounted on wooden poles.

A PET FOR PEACE

Josh Kealoha, 14, had no baguette, but he did have a parrot, Tolpec, sitting on a stick.

His pet was a parrot for peace, Kealoha said.

"I don't think it's right for our government to kill people," he said.

Tolpec wasn't the only pet in attendance. A variety of dogs padded down Market Street, one dressed in a T-shirt reading "Puppies for Peace." Another wore a sign around his neck saying, "Humans have feelings, too."

Rob Fracisco of Oakland had his dog, Slomo, by his side.

"It's his first march -- he's doing pretty good," said Fracisco, adding that he himself is not a regular protester.

"My politics are not as radical as a lot of people's," he said. "I want to show that people without extreme radical viewpoints are against the war."

Liev Aleo of Santa Barbara, sporting oversize green sunglasses, said she has pledged to travel to Iraq and form a human shield against U.S. bombing.

Sam Shirley of Oakland, while not planning to go that far, said people need to do more than vote.

"It's really necessary to let politicians and leaders know that a lot of Americans don't support the war," said Shirley, who had his two young daughters with him.

"I think it's important for them to understand how to have a voice in American politics. Voting for politicians doesn't work anymore -- look at who's in charge."

2002 San Francisco Chronicle
SF protest 27.Oct.2002 14:56

DL

I went down with a friend. I estimated the crowd at 80,000. I'm no expert at gauging these things, but it was certainly more than 42,000. It was really an inspiring event. The crowd was amazing, and by the time everyone massed around City Hall, it had the air of a happening. I just hope we can continue this momentum forward in various anti-war activities around the country.

Can't get through to SF IMC 27.Oct.2002 17:06

Sheepdog

Is anybody able to post at SF IMC?
It's been closed for some time.

crowd, etc 27.Oct.2002 17:42

The One True b!X

It was definitely more than 42k. If you had the experience of the O6 march here in Portland and compare the two, 42k is too small a number. Organizers in SF originally pegged attendance at somewhere between 95-150k, but I gather they downgraded that by the time they were talking to reporters.

Nonetheless, the Chronicle article/reporter did us the huge favor of talking to several people of the "I'm not a regular protestor" variety, which is a pitch that needs to spread. Also, police in both SF and DC are both saying the protests in those cities were the largest since the Vietnam War.