SF and Washington Demos

Alternative alternative at sbcglobal.net
Sun Apr 21 00:08:11 MDT 2002


Today's demos were great. Carlos


------- forwarded message --------

APRIL 20

San Francisco:

10,000 people showed up. This is the first time that I saw the real,
down to earth Palestinian and Arab communities - not just the
activists - coming out in force to support their brothers and sisters
in Palestine. They came in small groups, dragging their kids, with
their handmade signs and their Palestinian flags. They came out
without being organized by any organization. They just came out to
protest.

I saw many Muslim, but also many Christian Palestinians at todays
rally as well as a contingent of "Jews Against the Occupation."

Another large component of the demo today: young women and men.
Really young, like 16, 17 and 18 years old. Without any
organization, just mad as hell about the crimes of the US and Israeli
government.

And, of course, some of the left groups, which looked even smaller
given the fact that a large proportion of the crowd were new to these
kind of events. Largest contingents from the left were the Left
Party, WWP and a Filipino left wing organization which I could not
get the name of.

The most pitiful of all: three very old guys holding a banner of the
Young Communist League. The ISO had some papers sellers but I did
not see any contingent from their organization. Couple of their
people told me that there were some desertions lately and some kind
of struggle in their ranks. Maybe they all went to Washington, where
my friends did not see them either, but that could be explained by
the bigger size of the demo.

The Green Party had no contingent of its own, even though I saw one
banner with its name on it. Hey! and what do you think? There was a
guy marching in the middle of a contingent from a liberal church
carrying a sign for.... Arlette!

A group claimed they collected 5,000 signatures during the day
for "Dumping Feinstein", the former Mayor of SF and not US Senator
who is asking Bush to add the PLO to the list of terrorist
organizations.

Washington, DC

Several friends of mine who went there reported today that they
estimated 50,000 at the biggest march today, in Washington, DC.
There were about 5,000 alone organized around the PLO banners and the
contingent was almost entirely PLO sympathizers. That was the
contingent greeted by PLO representative in Washington who was there
for the international meeting the protest was originally organized
against.

There were more than 200 buses that brought Muslims and members of
Muslim, Arab and Palestinian organizations, including but not limited
at all to Mosques. This is the first time that anyone remembers so
many Palestinians and Arabs in general marching on the streets of any
City of the US.

The fact that Palestinians demonstrated in mass today in the US is
extremely positive, seems as a reflection of the mass struggles in
the Middle East countries, but also showed that the process is very
uneven in the country because other communities did not do well in
mobilizing.

In spite the efforts of some leftists to keep the demonstrations
focused on domestic issues, the World Bank and IMF and the "war on
terrorism" it was clear both in Washington and SF, that the main
character was given to the demos by the thousands of Palestinian
flags and pro Palestinian signs and chants.

A strong contingent of the Colombian solidarity movement (about 1,000
strong) which demonstrated against the "Plan Colombia" did in fact
chanted all the way during the demo, slogans in solidarity with the
Palestinian struggle.

My friends reported several contingents of orthodox Jews marching in
solidarity with Palestinians and against Sharon in Washington. There
were also secular and liberal Jewish groups as well. PLO people were
seen criticizing two small groups of Islamic fundamentalists for
harassing the anti-Sharon Jewish groups (which I thought was
interesting.)

One other thing: it seems that both in SF and Washington there were
serious organizational problems since nobody seemed to have
full "authority" over the demonstrators and the different groups and
therefore there was a great deal of confusion about routes, etc
People marched to the wrong places, contingents

Great absences: there were not liberal, moderate or right wing
Democrats or Republicans at any of the demonstrations. There was not
a single top official of the AFL-CIO in sight. This is in contrast
with the massive presence of Democratic and Republican elected
officials at the pro-Sharon rallies last week. These absences were
particularly striking in SF where the left wing of the Democratic
Party controls the city.

A.

------- end of forwarded message -----


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