Thousands of people gathered in San Francisco’s Union Square yesterday at 2 p.m. to protest the United States’ proposed bombing of Iraq. About 25 Stanford students — many of them representing campus activism groups such as the Stanford Community for Peace and Justice and Students for Environmental Action and Justice — joined over 5,000 attendees from around the Bay Area.
Many of the students met in White Plaza yesterday morning and took the Caltrain bus to the rally, while others drove or arranged rides. Among the sea of protesters and antiwar signs were a banner declaring, “Stanford For [Peace Symbol]” and the cardboard backing from a spiral notebook, on which was written “Stanford Students Say No to War.”
“This is clearly a war about oil, not terrorism,” said senior Sabrina Fernandez, a member and former officer of SEAS. “If this was about terrorism, if the administration wanted to get to the root of terrorism, they’d be bombing Saudi Arabia. But all they want is to create a puppet regime in Iraq, which will allow the U.S. to control the country’s oil.”
She added, “I was really happy about the turnout of Stanford students. I think that the event was well-publicized on campus, particularly by the SCPJ at the Words Against War event. It was nice to ride up with a bus of fellow protesters, to get that sense of community.”
The San Francisco protest was only one of many across the United States, including events in Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Houston, Texas. The rally in New York City reportedly attracted over 20,000 people. All of the events were organized by the Not In Our Name Project and were timed to occur on the eve of the first anniversary of the initiation of bombing of Afghanistan.
During the rally, Union Square was filled with chanting, energetic crowds who spilled over into neighboring streets. People crammed the windows overlooking the rally from the neighboring Macy’s, some of them just curious, others dangling an anti-war banner from the roof until they were told by police to remove it.
At the rally’s start, organizer Tanya Mayo exhorted listeners to view this rally only as the beginning of a broader effort.
“We need to start the biggest, baddest anti-war movement this world has ever seen,” she said.
Country singer Bonnie Raitt and anti-globalization activist Kevin Danaher took the stage to read from Not In Our Name’s Pledge of Resistance, which has been published in the New York Times and other newspapers.
The pledge begins: “We believe that, as people living in the United States, it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government, in our names. Not in our name will you wage endless war; there can be no more deaths, no more transfusions of blood for oil.”
Included in the program of speeches and performances was a talk by Riva Enteen, a representative of the National Lawyers Guild. She criticized the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush for what she described as its attack on civil rights and disregard for the constitutional separation of powers.
The organizers also broadcast a recorded statement from Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose conviction for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981 has been widely protested.
Abu-Jamal said that it was hypocritical for the Bush administration to wage a war using the justification of human rights, since it supported many other governments responsible for major human-rights violations.
As the afternoon wore on, protesters slowly filtered out of the square, and the rally reached its end shortly after 5 p.m.
“This shows the growing energy of the anti-war movement,” said senior Calvin Miaw, a co-coordinator of the SCPJ. “Even people who come here and are already anti-war will get a different perspective from all the speakers today.
“It’s important for those of us against war to understand the perspectives of those with other opinions and to address their concerns, especially because this will help us understand our own opinions.”daily.stanford.edu/tempo?page=content&id=8953&repository=0001_articleE-mail this article