Happy 3rd Anniversary, Mr. President
By NOISEmaker whodisan215 (23, M, CA)
Multicolored banners waved atop the impassioned crowd, each festooned with clever slogans like "The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own" and "NeoCon Jobs: Iraq, 9/11." The protestors were booming adamantly as they marched through the streets of downtown San Francisco. Though the specific object of their fury varied, the people were thoroughly united in opposition to the actions of the current American regime on the 3rd Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
It was Saturday, March 18th, and over 20,000 demonstrators turned out for the march and subsequent rally around San Francisco's City Hall, joining hundreds of thousands of other political activists all over the world who sought to criticize the bellicose agenda of the American president and the imperialist tendencies of the world's lone superpower.
"We're building a powerful grassroots movement that is having a transformative national impact on the political climate," said Jerry Miller, a young activist with World Can't Wait, which has been instrumental in organizing high school and college youth. Miller added: "The situation is so extreme with this administration that we need to create mass national outrage and pressure against the power structure to drive this administration out of office."
It was a glorious day. The season's dreadful weather gave way to a full day of sunshine, as the demonstrators congregated in the plaza in front of City Hall for hours of rousing speeches before and after the march through the Tenderloin, Financial District, and SOMA neighborhoods.
The day's keynote speaker was leader of Common Ground Relief in New Orleans, Malik Rahim. The rally featured a number of speakers from the sizable Bay Area Palestinian community, advocates of Filipino liberation from the American military, and Native American performers.
"It was so amazing to see this many colorful people speaking out about the issues that matter to them," said Adele Ewert, a 22 year-old Berkeley resident who attended the march to voice her concerns over Bush's stance on environmental issues. "The constant degradation of our natural assets will really damage our generation's survival. We have to plan for the future," added Ewert.
The rally truly reenergized my will to achieve regime change domestically. I showed up to the rally with a crew of fellow Disarm Bush activists and tshirt pushers. We re-engaged in the subversive and propagandistic activities that had made our guerilla marketing campaign so successful during the run-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.
In my estimation, this San Francisco rally successfully generated a significant amount of public attention, while avoiding conflict with law enforcement. However, the turnout was lower than expected in many places around the world. The marches did not compare to the rallies in early 2003 in which an estimated 36 million people protested the incipient invasion of Iraq over the course of several months, according to Wikipedia.
Europe's largest protests on March 18, 2006, occurred in London, Rome, Barcelona, and Copenhagen. British, Italian, and Danish troops form a significant portion of the so-called Coalition of the Willing, though at least limited troop withdrawals have been announced for Britain and Italy. The London march was attended by several notable political figures, including recently embattled London mayor Ken Livingstone and Sheik Hassan Al Zagani, foreign affairs spokesman for Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr.
Marches in Tokyo, Seoul, Istanbul, Caracas, and Kuala Lumpur took place on Saturday and Sunday, with demonstrators united in their call for a swift end to the American military presence in Iraq.