About 20,000 people showed up for the largest anti-war protest San Francisco has seen in 20 years.
Gathering at Dolores Park and ending at City Hall, protestors carried signs, waved banners, and chanted slogans as they marched peacefully yet passionately through the streets of San Francisco.
The International Act Now to Stop War and End Racism coalition, or A.N.S.W.E.R., sponsored and hundreds of others endorsed the march to “Protest the Real Axis of Evil-War, Racism, and Poverty,” according to an A.N.S.W.E.R. press release. However the issue that clearly dominated the demonstration was what many organizers called the “U.S.-Israeli war against the Palestinian people.”
A.N.S.W.E.R. sponsered a rally in Washington D.C. on the same day which 30,000 protestors attended. With the two marches together, April 20 saw the largest demonstration in support of the Palestinian people ever held in the U.S.
More than 40 buses brought in people from around California while vans and carpools were organized across the Western U.S. according to the press release.
“I flew up from L.A.,” said one protestor. “I’m flying back tonight.”
Two Quakers, Carol Rose and 85 year old Frances, came up from Woodside to march.
“I live a nice life,” said Rose. “Unfortunately, a lot of people in the rest of the world do not.” Rose also expressed concern that this could the beginning of World War III with the use of nuclear weapons.
A Palestinian family, husband, wife and their two children, were huddled together watching the speaker on the stage.
“A friend of mine and her daughter went to Ramallah last month,” said the man who chose not to reveal his name. “They were shot and killed last week. My friend paid U.S. taxes to get killed. She was Palestinian-American.”
Huge green, red, and white Palestinian flags littered the extremely diverse crowd.
Israeli-Americans Amir and Roni Terkel, members of The Jewish Voice For Peace Organization in San Francisco, came to show their support for the Palestinians as well.
“While I don’t necessarily agree with all the messages in today’s rally,” said Amir Terkel,” it’s still important enough for me to be here in order to show that there’s a very strong Israeli and Arab voice against the occupation.”
“Most American Jews feel like they have to support the Israeli policy,” said Roni Terkel, “but if Israel is doing something wrong, it’s my role as an Israeli and a Jew to speak out against this.”
Amir said he felt Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “disregarded the peace policy just as much as everyone else” by continuing to build Jewish settlements in the occupied territory.
“Three days ago was Israeli Independence Day,” said Amir. “But I don’t feel proud to celebrate.”