SF protestors mark war anniversary

March 19, 2008 6:57:49 PM PDT
Major protests across the country and the Bay Area are marking the five year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. One of the largest protests took place in downtown San Francisco.

Police have made dozens of arrests as protestors gathered for a march through town. Almost all of those arrested were charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.

It's a conflict that's cost nearly 4,000 American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. Those opposed to the war say enough is enough.

Earlier in the day, Code Pink demonstrators briefly hung an anti-war banner across the Golden Gate Bridge before officers ripped it down.

The protests in downtown San Francisco began early Wednesday morning. A group blocked the entrance to the offices of Chevron Oil on California Street by locking themselves together with PVC pipes attached to oil drums. A large contingent of police were on hand to make the arrests. In all, 14 people were taken into custody from that protest.

Another group of protestors chained themselves together in front of the Federal Reserve Bank at 101 Market. Firefighters were called in to saw them loose before police could make their arrests. Seven people were taken into custody there.

By mid-morning, hundreds of anti-war demonstrators gathered on Market Street. It took on a festival like atmosphere with guerilla theatre and speeches.

There were anti-war readings including the names of those killed in the war.

Just before the noon hour, a large contingent gathered in the intersection of Market and Third, blocking traffic. Protestors called it a die-in. Muni buses and streetcars came to a sudden halt. Police began making arrests. They say 23 people were taken into custody.

Among those arrested was Josh Wolfe, a blogger whose previous arrest made national headlines. A judge jailed him for refusing to turn over his videotape of a violent protest in which a police officer was injured.

By mid-afternoon, protestors had launched another die-in, this time at Market and Montgomery. Police made more arrests. Among them, veteran activist Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon papers to the New York Times during the Vietnam War.

"This war won't end until enough people set an example for our representatives in Congress and for the campaigners that it's not business as usual," said Ellsberg.

Not everyone agreed with the protestors. Pedestrian Carlos Ramirez had a different perspective.

"We have to go in and do what we have to do to keep our country safe and free of terrorism," said Ramirez.

Police have made 143 arrests so far -- all of them for non-violent civil disobedience.