Anti-war activists will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq with a march Saturday in San Francisco, the culmination of a week that will include everything from interfaith ceremonies to civil disobedience to congressional lobbying against the occupation.
Marchers will gather at 11 a.m. Saturday in Dolores Park and head to the Civic Center for a rally featuring speakers, including actor/activist Woody Harrelson, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta and Stephen Funk, the former Marine reservist just released from prison after serving a six-month sentence for refusing to report with his unit.
The San Francisco event is one of 250 planned nationwide. Others will be held in San Jose, Los Angeles and tiny Bodega Bay, where marchers are being asked to "Meet at Surf Shop in downtown Bodega (and) hold signs protesting the war for tourists traveling to the coast to see." Nationally, the largest event is expected to be in New York. Military families and veterans are gathering in Fayetteville, N.C., near one of the nation's largest military bases, Fort Bragg, and activists from Texas are headed to President Bush's hometown of Crawford, Texas.
More than 200 other peace events are planned in 50 countries Saturday.
"As terrible as things are in the world, from Iraq to the bombing in Spain, I think people are hopeful that they can make a difference in bringing world peace," said Bill Hackwell, an organizer with International ANSWER, which is sponsoring Saturday's event in San Francisco along with radio station KPFA, the Vanguard Foundation, National Lawyers Guild and the Free Palestine Alliance.
Organizers expect 15,000 to 25,000 people to attend. Deputy Police Chief Greg Suhr said officers will be ready for as many as 100,000 demonstrators. BART will run longer trains all day but will maintain its regular Saturday schedule.
"The numbers are important only in that it forces the media to discuss how what happened in Iraq was a tragedy," said Andrea Buffa, an organizer with United for Peace and Justice, an umbrella organization of anti-war groups.
Several other one-year commemorative events are planned for Friday.
At 7 a.m., demonstrators will gather in Justin Herman Plaza, then fan out across the city to perform nonviolent direct action and street theater. The demonstrations, sponsored by Direct Action to Stop the War, will commemorate the civil disobedience that snarled San Francisco a day after the U.S. invasion, cost the city $2 million and led to 2,300 arrests.
Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, there will be an interfaith service and procession at Golden Gate Lutheran Church, 601 Dolores St. There will be an all-night peace vigil before Saturday's protest.
Nationally, activists are trying to set up meetings Friday with their congressional representatives to lobby on Iraq issues. As the Senate will be in recess and many House members will be returning to their districts, activists with United for Peace and Justice are coordinating a nationwide Iraq Advocacy Day.
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle