Anti-War Protest in San Francisco

Thousands of people showed up today for an anti-war protest march in San Francisco. The rally organized and sponsored by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), began at Dolores Park shortly before noontime. The demonstrators weaved their way through the streets of San Francisco, ultimately ending at the Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall. The march was peaceful and no violence nor arrests were reported by the police.

This protest absolutely dwarfed that of the Abercrombie & Fitch on Thursday. It really did make the little brouhaha about a t-shirt design seem so trivial and petty, I felt.

The protesters had a definite pro-Palestinian edge to it, with thousands of people wielding anti-Bush administration and anti-Israeli pickets. Here is a sampling of slogans adorning some of the signs:

  • Free Palestine. Divest from Israel
  • US Out Of The Middle East!
  • Justice Not War
  • Palestine Will Be Free
  • Stop Bush’s Program Of War, Racism, & Poverty
  • Solidarity With Palestine
  • Bush Stop The Killing
  • Zionism Is Terrorism
  • End Israeli Apartheid
  • Stand up against Israel’s terror!
  • Bush Powell & Ashcroft. The Real Axis of Evil

There were some pickets showing the Star of David symbol next to the Nazi swastika or a light-blue swastika in place of the Star of David in the Israeli flag. Those were disturbing to see, as it points out just how emotional and charged are the feelings regarding the situation in the Middle East. There were also a number of placards supporting other causes, such as the release of death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal and the preservation of civil liberties.

At City Hall, there was a small contingent of pro-Israeli and pro-Bush Administration supporters, but they were dwarfed by the sheer size of the protesters. The police had to move them into City Hall, separating the two groups with a line of officers in riot gear.

I was on the steps to City Hall when the police told everyone to move away. You can see in the image to the left (or in this enlarged crop) a small group of pro-Israeli supporters on the far right.

There was huge media coverage surrounding the event. Professional photographers were jockeying for position and yelling at spectators to “Get out of the way!” when they were in the middle of the money shot. I’ve been getting a taste of what it’s like to be a professional photojournalist, and I’m not sure what to make of it yet. It is great to be on hand for these newsworthy events, but there’s something missing that I can’t pin my finger on just it. Until I find out what that is, I’ll keep going to these events and keep on shooting. The amount of normal people with cameras and videocameras was impressive and mind-boggling. Everyone seemed to be capturing the event for their memories and scrapbooks on film, CompactFlash cards, and MiniDV tapes.

Although there was a serious tone to the protest, there were some light and heartfelt moments amongst the marchers. There were many people who saw the march as an opportunity for self-expression. Others saw the protest as a chance to get high; the smell of marijuana was strong in the streets of San Fransisco Saturday afternoon.

I didn’t have my video camera with me, but I did have the EOS-1D with its built-in microphone. I haven’t used the sound recording capabilities too much in the past, but I made use of it today to capture some of the protest’s aural flavor. Click here, here, here, and
here to hear some of the sound clips.

Disclaimer: Depending on your political stance, you may strongly agree or disagree with the contents of these sound clips.

One thing that I’m going to have to get better at in the future is securing the names of the people that I photograph. That seems to be a must do for writing captions and getting your photos published in print and online.

Out of the 500+ images that I shot today, I’m sharing 45 of them with you in my photo gallery.

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