San Francisco Anti-War March and Rally

by Bruce Akizuki
San Francisco, California

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A family for peace. Youth activists.
A family for peace.
Youth activists.
Fighting for Peace. 3-15-03 Anti-War.
Fighting for Peace.
3-15-03 Anti-War.

On the day after some of the largest anti war demonstrations around the world since the Vietnam War, the San Francisco anti war march and rally on February 16, 2003 drew over 250,000 people. It was so large that organizers had to start the march earlier to accommodate all the participants.

This was the broadest and most diverse Bay Area demonstration in years. Usually these kinds of marches and rallies draw mostly progressives, college students, labor union activists, and liberal minded environmental and peace activist groups and individuals. But this time thousands of newly politicized people showed up, immigrant Chinese workers, Filipino youth, new college activists, South Asian and other Asians.

I talked with different people along the route. I first asked seven year-old Jael Imani, a South Asian-African, why she was attending the march and she said, “I don’t like people killing people.” This was a popular sentiment that I observed looking at the anti war banners & signs. Luca Tseng, a 21 year-old college student from U.C. Berkeley and one of many Asian college students at the march, stated, “Since they (the U.S. government) have no basis to go to war with Iraq, we as the people of this country need to let those in power know of our opinions that going to war is unnecessary.” A Filipino-American Indian middle aged man said “This is the least I can do.” For many of the newly politicized marchers this was the reason to come to this march and rally. Rick, a 12 year old Asian youth from FAA, had a sharp statement-- he said, “Bush is greedy about oil and shouldn’t endanger innocent lives.”

There was a large minority presence at this march and rally—a couple thousand people or more. Asians marched with hundreds of Palestinians, Arab-Americans, people from the Women of Color Resource Center and Latinos Contra La Guerra. The Asian contingent was very visible and had a presence throughout the march. The contingent was led by Filipinos for Global Justice Not War Coalition – who had creative and innovative chants and songs as did the awesome Korean drummer group “Ja Mae Sori”. The Chinese Progressive Association and Common Roots mobilized over 500 people, mostly Chinese immigrant workers. Other notable Asian groups were ASATA (South Asian), RJ 911, KYCC, KCCEB, APICAW, API Force, Southeast Asian Student Coalition, and Nosei.

The events of this weekend give us inspiration and the hope that we can stop an unjust and inhuman war. Millions in this country and around the world voiced their opinions throughout the weekend. People are willing to fight for peace!

Bruce Takeo Akizuki: Photographer for over 15 years. Founder and coordinator of Community Images, a community-based photographic program in San Francisco since 1992.

Published April 13, 2003.