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Thousands fill streets of San Francisco

Published Mar 23, 2005 3:48 PM

About 25,000 people marched through the streets of San Francisco on March 19 to demand an end to the war and occupation of Iraq. Protesters came from throughout California and included many student, community and political groups.

Judy Greenspan

Labor organizations brought out the largest contingent of people. Before the march began they held a separate labor rally, linking the Bush administration’s brutal war on the people of Iraq to the government’s campaign to slash wages, education, health care and Social Security for people in the United States.

The demonstration, organized by the ANSWER coalition, began with a rally at Dolores Park and then marched to the Civic Center.

Those marching included a campus anti-war group with a banner that read “College Not Combat”; Women in Black, a group that opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestine; a lesbian/gay/bi/trans contingent with rainbow flags; a Free the Cuban Five contingent; and a Workers World Party contingent carrying a banner that read, “Bring the troops home now! Support the global struggle against U.S. imperialism.”

Workers World Party
at March 19 protest.

International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10 had a large contingent that included its dynamic drill team. The Million Worker March Movement, Service Employees Local 790 and United Trans portation Union Local 1741 of San Francisco School Bus Drivers were among many other unions in the march.

The bus drivers also donated their labor to drive ILWU Local 10 members from their union hall to the labor rally.

The labor rally was co-sponsored by six Bay Area labor councils, as well as U.S. Labor Against the War, the Million Worker March Movement, Bay Area Labor Committee for Justice & Peace, ILWU Local 10 and Pride At Work.

As it did last year, ILWU Local 10 shut down ports along the West Coast to commemorate the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Local 10 President Trent Willis told the crowd at the closing rally that the union had also stood against the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the apartheid regime of South Africa. In 1984 the union refused to unload cargo from South African ships.

“Our young members understand that in this struggle we have to rise up at the same time,” Willis said. “We’re not working the port of San Francisco or Oakland or any port we have jurisdiction over today.”

Judy Greenspan of Workers World Party spoke linking the U.S. war in Iraq, the threats against Iran and the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine to the war against poor and working people at home.

“We have to be activist warriors, gladiators in the struggle, whether it’s teachers, parents and the community fighting against the private takeover of schools, or the nurses and firefighters battling Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to cut their wages and benefits,” Greenspan said.

The Million Worker March held last October in Washington, D.C., “is the type of independent action that is needed in the days ahead,” she concluded.