last updated
2 years, 6 months ago

March 22, 2003 Antiwar Protest

It was hard to get a sense of just how huge this march was, even while in the middle of it. We were never able to see the front or rear of the march from where we were, even in long stretches from Van Ness & Market to 4th & Market.

This shot is close to where we started, with the SF Symphony and Opera Plaza in the background.

I was absolutely *stunned* by the number of hand-made signs and the creativity and passion expressed on them. Seeing them all waving together in a single voice was overwhelming. Tearily, I thought how nice it was to be around others like me, instead of feeling helpless on the couch watching CNN as Bush continues to ignore the world majority. I thought "if everyone was like this in my imaginary country, I'd be the proudest and happiest citizen."

We turn the corner and I'm like "dang! we shut down Van Ness!" The car drivers beeped in support and seemed to actually enjoy being in the middle of it.

"Do Not Block Intersection" < tee hee >

I had my little francophile sign held high for the day. I got a lot of attention from it. People mostly thought it was great or would laugh. Some thought I was French, others spoke french or simple french encouragement as I went by ("Oui! Oui! Oui!"). One man was so happy to see me supporting France that he took a picture for his Parisian friend ("my friend is convinced nobody supports France anymore").

Hunter's sign is harder to read here. Behind him is a variant of "What Would Jesus Do?" as "Who Would Jesus Bomb?".

There were some pretty cute and creative expressions of protest. This was one of the smallest marchers.

After the march, Hunter and I headed back to work. On the way, we stopped to watch some of the more vocal protesters shut down Market & 7th. Just like that -- leaving about 6 buses and 5 cars suddenly stuck waiting at the closed intersection.

Detail of the highly effective sign.

Pressure from police moving in gets the Market & 7th intersection starting to move again. The buses start crossing the intersection. They stop. I spin around and see why. This young man holds up buses with a serene lotus position amidst bus horns and near chaos around him. A KRON camerwoman swoops in.

We continue down Market towards 6th. Halfway down, most all of the rougly 100 people start running towards 6th. It was surreal -- the sidewalks just suddenly start wooshing with people and I can't help but feel like a cow in the middle of a herd that just got spooked. At 6th street, anarchists are stirring things up as the police have been swarming in around Market street from 5th to 7th street. Some of them are throwing things at the police; many are screaming. The police are not happy and start to swell the ring of riot police from the intersection and towards the sidewalk.

I'm thinking "this is one of the things I wanted to see and document!" I start snapping photos (along with others) from the MUNI ramp in Market St. Hunter has continued on across Market and is yelling "Tracey! Now!" I finally turn to meet Hunter and see why he is yelling. Police have now moved in from 7th & Market and we are totally surrounded in the middle of about 200 riot police. My heart is suddenly racing and I'm thinking "oh s---".

If you look toward the background, the dark blue ring is all riot police as they have nearly two fully concentric rings surrounding the intersection and the sidewalks around the intersection. Luckily, the police have some openings for people like us (peaceful protesters) to slip through. Phew!

All in all, a totally fantastic and empowering experience! This was my first protest march ever, so it was both eye opening and stimulating. I left the weekend feeling much better, especially after hearing that up to 300,000 people marched in NYC (and at least 50,000 marched in SF).

I was also very impressed by both how peaceful the protesting has been, and by how reasonable and restrained the police have been. It seems that protesters shut down an intersection for awhile, and then the police move in and free it up. Most of the time, it is only those who refuse to move who get arrested. The protesters get to feel good -- they get to mess up the system that is NOT business as usual while we are attacking another country, and the police get to feel good -- they get to free intersections and not arrest too many people.

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