San Francisco, United States
I marched in San Francisco with friends and members of the Threshold Choir. Everyone I knew was there, drumming, dancing, having a wild time. It felt so good to be out with all these other people who were also opposed to starting a war in Iraq. Some of us with the Threshold Choir gathered on a street corner and sang for several hours. We got to see waves and waves of people coming down the street. I will never forget how wonderful it all was, and how terrible it felt when the war started anyways.
I remembered that I’d written an account that was published on Indybay.org in a comment on the following post:
300,000 at SF Peace March 2/16
Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 6:36 PM
Interfaith Prayer Opens Rally
Thursday Feb 20th, 2003 8:43 AM
The peace rally was launched with an interfaith coalition of almost two dozen spiritual leaders serving members of many different religions in San Francisco, reflecting the religious, cultural, racial and ethnic diversity of the Bay area. They prayed, sang, led us in song, and gave speeches.
I listened for the first hour and was moved by how powerful each one was and felt blessed by the inner peace they shared. It’s true that in most public events started with a prayer, that section of the program only lasts a couple minutes and this was rather long. I felt it was an attempt to be all-inclusive, though, and I appreciated their inspiration. I would like to thank them for their service in this public forum.
I didn’t stay to hear everyone, though. Around noon I moved on to join up with the Threshold Choir led by Kate Munger. We stood on a corner and sang peace songs. Kate gave me a blue flag of the planet to wave and I had a great time singing and waving the flag in the erratic wind.
Before I set out from Oakland in the morning, I had to decide whether to wear my raincoat or bring an umbrella. Not wanting to be burdened if it didn’t rain, I took a chance and left them home. Fortunately the storm clouds sailed past even though it sprinkled a little around 11:00 a.m.
What I want to know is what were all those fire engines doing that moved into the intersection and drove down the street, forcing the marchers to move to the sidewalks to let them by? Was there really a fire or were they trying to intimidate, disrupt or control the crowd? It was so bizarre.
We kept singing and holding the peace. Though marchers looked grim, everyone gave way peacefully and nothing happened that I was aware of. When the fire engines retreated, I exchanged looks with one of the firemen whose impassive face nevertheless showed his puzzlement about what we were up to. I sensed they really expected to have caused more of a disruption and to at least have scared us a little.
One of the women singing in the choir started urging marchers to form a human chain to stop the trucks, but I dissuaded her, thinking that there might possibly be a true emergency situation. Now this may be paranoia speaking, but I thought there was a real possibility that CIA operatives might stage a terrorist attack in the subway, either in New York or San Francisco, to discourage people from marching in these peace rallies.
Terrorism has been the MO of the Bush administration from the get-go from Republicans harrassing vote counters in Florida back to Governor Mel Carnahan of Missouri’s convenient death in the senate race against Ashcroft (Ashcroft lost anyways as the people of Missouri elected him posthumously and his wife Jean valiantly served his term in office) to the bombing of Baghdad, killing women and children, a week after Bush “took” office to the anthrax planted in the Senate offices of those Senators such as Tom Daschle who spoke out against his war on terrorism to the yet again so convenient death last fall in the Senate race of Senator Wellstone who courageously spoke against Ashcroft’s appointment to Attorney General and the “war against terrorism” to the bombing of Afghanistan which continues to this day on the flimsy pretext of rooting out terrorist enclaves (what about the School of the Americas right here in the U.S.? On those grounds, an attack against the U.S. is fully justified also. Several people who staged a protest against the School of Americas were arraigned this week and given hefty fines. Some were sentenced to serve a term in prison.)
And what about all the tactics being used to intimidate resistance, the Patriot bill and other legislation designed to steal us of our privacy and right to dissent in a democracy?
The truth is when those fire engines converged on the intersection where we were singing, I did experience a twinge of fear. I did not know what was happening. Kate Munger kept her cool, though, and pointed out to us that one of the firemen on the street was actually a woman so that we were admiring how she hefted an oxygen tank on her bank as she took to the street and our fear quickly shifted to love for this woman doing her job.
Kate steadied me. And I kept on singing and waving the flag, feeling joyous again and loving everyone there, including the firefighters and police. I thought if I were to die in that moment while singing for peace, I would die happy and I was not afraid.