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SAN FRANCISCO: HANDS OFF SYRIA!

by Michael Steinberg Saturday, Sep. 07, 2013 at 9:00 PM
blackrainpress@hotmail.com

People gathered here on an unusually hot day-for SF- to rally and march in opposition to US plans to stage military attacks on Syria.

The rally began at noon at Justin Hermann Plaza at the foot of downtown’s Market Street—renamed Chelsea Manning Plaza for the day’s events.

The day’s actions were in solidarity with a concurrent Mass Protest at the Capitol in DC called by an ad hoc group, Vote No Against War On Syria Coalition.

As people baked in the sun while the heat continues to be turned up by Obama, Kerry and company to send the nation to war in the Middle East again, a number of speakers at Chelsea Manning Plaza pointed out the insanity of this plan.

A representative from Veterans For Peace asserted, “They say they’ll be no boots on the ground, but we have thousands of US Navy personnel on ships in harm’s way right now. If war breaks out, they’ll be sitting ducks.”

Tariq, a Syrian activist, has been working for Assad’s fall since protests started during the Arab Spring of 2011.

“We don’t need US intervention,” he said. “That would cause more destruction and death.

“San Francisco is six times larger than Damascus” (Syria’s capital), he reported. “But while San Francisco’s population is 800,000, Damascus’s is 1.7 million.” Imagine what missiles raining down on Damascus would do.

“The Assad regime has to fall,” Tariq asserted. “But not by US intervention.”

Algo, representing Californian Filipino World War II veterans, told us that they had met earlier and decided to come to Senator Diane Feinstein’s office in San Francisco on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to tell Feinstein to vote no on the legislation to authorize the use of military force against Syria.

“The Filipino vets were never recognized by the US as legitimate vets. They joined in World War II because, even though we were occupied by the US Empire, we were invaded by another empire, Japan. It was a defensive war for us. But the US war against Syria would be offensive, not defensive.”

Veteran Bay Area activist Gloria LaRiva said, “Millions of US citizens are shocked by Obama leading the way for war. But when he was running for reelection in 2008 he spoke in defense of Israel. He was vetted to be president by the Democrats in support of giant firms who benefit from the tasks of war.

“Our real political action is to be in the streets every day.”

LaRiva called for people to come to Feinstein’s SF office at 1 Post Street at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to deliver this message: “We will remember you for the war criminal you are.”

Musician Francis Collins appeared on stage a while later to deliver a stirring rendition of Jackson Browne’s song “Lives in the Balance. It begins:

I’ve been waiting for something to happen

For a week or a month or a year

With the blood of the ink of the headlines

And the sound of the crowd in my ear

You might ask what it takes to remember

When you know that you’ve seen it before

Where a government lies to a people

And a country is drifting to war

At 1:15 people poured out of the plaza and the shade where they’d sought shelter from the heat, realizing there was no escape from it today.

The leading chant was US/NATO, HANDS OFF SYRIA.

Voices were raised in the name of peace and justice, turning shoppers heads and softening some hard faces in the Tenderloin, where they have their own battles to fight every day.

Banners and signs read, NO New War in Syria; Queers Say No US Attacks on Syria; Stop Breeding Terrorists; Obama Lies. People Die. Give Back the Peace Prize; Even If Congress Says It’s Legal, It’s Still Wrong To Attack Syria; and Drop Food, Not Bombs

One person toted a mock coffin with a sign attached reading “Your Soldier Here,” and the Grim Reaper made an appearance as well.

The march arrived at UN Plaza near the Civic Center at 2 p.m.

Some people went off a little later to occupy Nancy Pelosi’s house in Pacific Heights.

The action was organized by the ANSWER Coalition. The coalition is calling for people to gather at Market and Powell at 5 p.m. should the US attack Syria.

INTEROCCUPY.net has documented 264 rallies and direct actions around the world opposing the proposed US attack on Syria, not counting today’s actions, since August 29.

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