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End Wars, Support Workers RallyMarch 19, 2011
Bay Area CODEPINK
San Francisco, CA
On the 8th anniversary of the US bombing and invasion of Iraq, as the US joined European allies in bombing Libya, Bay Area anti-war and pro-union activists came together in UN Plaza on Market Street for a spirited rally in the rain.
Looking out over a crowd of about 1500 -- students, union members, longtime organizers, members of faith groups -- Janet Weil spoke of CODEPINK's history of 8 and 1/2 years of turbulent, determined activism for peace and justice, and our roots as an organization to try to prevent war in Iraq. "Sisters and Brothers!" Janet yelled out, as several codepinkers held a "Fund Healthcare Not Warfare" banner behind her, "I'm proud to stand with the people tough enough to march in the rain!" Her short speech focussing on the $700+ billion and counting to pay for devastating Iraq ended with the Italian anti-Fascist song "Bella Ciao" with new lyrics:
"Oh we are women, and we are marching/ Oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao/ We want justice for all the people/ Bring our war dollars home right now!"
Toby Blome then spoke to the crowd about the campaign she's organizing at airbases in California, and the need to go beyond our usual activities and bring the anti-war/pro-peace messages directly to the military.
SF intern Chelsea and her friend Colleen passed out many new "Bring Our War $$ Home" stickers to people, as we headed to St. Francis Hotel on a short march in support of workers struggling for better wages there.
All the rally speeches were very moving and heart-felt, touching on issues ranging from the deterioration of healthcare benefits for workers, to the destruction of war, to the economic devastation caused by endless militarism, to torture, to union-busting and the struggle for workers' rights, and more. The final action of the day was a march to protest a talk at the World Affairs Council by Stephen Hadley, Condi Rice's "right hand man" and pusher of the lie Iraq's purported effort to buy uranium from Niger, one of the principal fictions put forth as a reason for the US to invade Iraq.
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