SAN FRANCISCO - March 19 - Over 500 Bay Area residents marked the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq by taking direct action at the headquarters of the Bechtel corporation to protest their exploitation of the Iraqi people and misuse of U.S. tax dollars. Two marches converged on Bechtel's offices, one led by teachers holding a banner reading "Education Not Occupation," and one led by healthcare workers marching with banners reading "Healthcare not Warfare" and "Democracy Not Empire". While the crowd occupied the street, several dozen people engaged in civil disobedience by blocking the entrances to the building. By noon over twenty-five people had been arrested. The actions were organized by local grassroots mobilization Direct Action to Stop theWar (DASW) |
Affinity groups involved with DASW also occupied an abandoned building to highlight the impacts of the escalating military budgets on Bay Area communities. "Why are we spending billions to illegally occupy Iraq when there isn't even enough affordable housing in our communities? Teachers are getting pink slips and our hospitals are under funded while more and more money is directed to Bush's policies of permanent war and empire-building," said Victoria Welle a San Francisco hospital worker.
Last year, DASW coordinated the largest and most consistently visible direct actions against the war inside the U.S. On March 20th, 2003 an estimated 20,000 people engaged in civil disobedience which shut down the San Francisco Financial District. In the following three days over 2,300 Bay area residents from all walks of life were arrested for protesting the invasion. Throughout the spring, DASW's direct action campaign continued with mass actions at the offices of war profiteering corporations like SSA,APL, Chevron-Texaco, Lockheed Martin and Bechtel.