BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
October 7, 2002
The San Francisco "Not In Our Voices" Protest
BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
I went to the "Not In Our Voices" protest today in San Francisco. Although I have been politically active for the past several years (mostly for sane gun control laws in Calif., and mostly via email and by attending gun control marches) I had never attended a rally as big as today's. I have no idea exactly how many people congregated in Union Square, but I estimate it at somewhere between 4 - 5,000. The crowd completely filled the square, and the streets and sidewalks on all four sides of the square were packed with people. Many people were on roof tops and hanging out of windows in buildings overlooking the square.
I drove from the north bay, with my eleven-year-old daughter, my friend Louise and her sixteen-year-old niece, to Berkeley, so that I could take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train across the Bay and to San Francisco. Upon arriving at the BART station, we saw several hundred people standing in line, all carrying signs and talking together under the blue skies and sunshine. A big burly man walking up to the station took one look at everybody and yelled: "I love you all!!! Thank you for coming out today!!" Everyone laughed and applauded him.
We took the escalator down to the train platform. We stationed ourselves at the bottom of the escalator and handed out some of the 500 flyers I had made with Senators' phone numbers on them (I had gotten the info from BuzzFlash's"Action Alert") and encouraged everyone to call Senator Robert Byrd and the other Senators who may be thinking about joining the filibuster on the Iraqi war resolution. The energy was electric; everyone was talking and encouraging each other and passing out information. I was so glad my daughter could see all of these people from so many diverse cultures coming together for a common cause. I told her: "This is what democracy really looks like. All of us here have one voice, together. We can do this!" (She rolled her eyes at this, and actually had attended the event somewhat against her will, but soon became very involved, talking and handing out flyers. I am so proud of her!! "That was fun, Mom," she said at the end of the day.)
We boarded the BART train, which was a ten-car train that was loaded almost to capacity. One thing that was really cool was the train operator and her patter to us passengers over her loud speaker. She called it the "Peace Train." We would come into a station on the way to SF and she would announce: "Make room for more folks to board the Peace Train! Please make room. Please stand away from the doors. Come on now, honey, get on board the "Peace Train!" It was wonderful to be on that train, with so many strangers, and laugh at the funny, supportive BART train conductor and her spiel. What a trip.
Anyway, we arrived in San Francisco, and walked the two blocks from the station to Union Square. I carried a large, fluorescent green sign that said: "Commander In Thief - Send Your Kids!" on one side, and "Pre-Emptive Strike...Impeach Bush" on the other side (thanks to a BuzzFlash Mailbag contributor for that one!). I received A LOT of positive feedback on the sign, and everyone was looking at each other's signs and giving the peace sign or the thumbs up. There were many families, with young children, and I saw a contingent of "Grannies For Peace" there, too. Lots of hippies of course (this IS San Francisco) and gay activists, and also MANY of the longshoremen and their union supporters, but basically a mix of ages, races and persuasions. I was so excited and inspired.
Soon the speakers began. Bonnie Raitt made an appearance and read the "Pledge of Resistance." Everyone applauded loudly and chanted "Not in our name! Not in our name!" No police in riot gear were there, no Bush supporters were in sight, and it was all GOOD. Really.
I felt so proud to be an American at that moment. I thought of all the other protests happening across the country, and all of the millions of people here in the US and throughout the world who are praying for PEACE. I felt that if all of this Truth and Care and Concern on this one day, with this one crowd, could be multiplied by millions, we COULD put a stop to this madness. Hey, it CAN happen!! Maybe I am too optimistic, maybe my rose-colored glasses are just way too thick, but for a moment I really did forget my fear and despair at what has been happening over the past two years. I felt energized, and I really did believe, just for a few moments, that WE CAN CREATE PEACE.
I hope so. I urge everyone to keep calling Washington, DC. I've been calling Daschle's office for days and it's been busy. But I'm not going to give up.
elaine in Petaluma
My favorite sign today was a drawing of the planet with bombs dropping
on Iraq. The caption was: "It's STOOPID, Stupid!!" I just laughed
all day at that one.
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