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Tens of thousands in San Francisco say no to war

About 150,000 people gather outside San Francisco City Hall on Sunday.
About 150,000 people gather outside San Francisco City Hall on Sunday.

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The streets of San Francisco were the site of a massive antiwar protest, where a small group of the estimated 150,000 demonstrators clashed with police. KRON's Diana Yee reports (February 17)
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SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of demonstrators in San Francisco protested Sunday against any war with Iraq in a daylong rally that attracted celebrities and politicians.

Police said the demonstration early on was largely peaceful, but by evening a group of "dissident protesters" not far from the main gathering threw rocks, bottles, and bricks at police. Several police officers were hurt, a police spokesman said.

Other details were not immediately available.

San Francisco police estimated 150,000 people turned up at Justin Herman Plaza in midmorning. About 50,000 people attended an afternoon rally at the Civic Center Plaza, police said.

Protesters carried signs reading, "Bay Area United Against War," "The World Says No to War" and "Jail Bush." At least one person waved the French national flag.

"We are here to say, 'Thank you, France, Thank you, Germany, Thank you, China' and 'Thank you, Sen. [Robert] Byrd,'" said David Harris, a founder of the draft-resistance movement during the Vietnam War.

He was referring to those countries' reluctance to back a possible U.S. war with Iraq, and to the West Virginia Democrat's comments against the Bush administration's "provocative rhetoric" about war.

Actor Danny Glover served as master of ceremonies for the event, which was organized by International ANSWER, a New York-based group that put together many of the weekend's protests. Singer Bonnie Raitt led the march to the afternoon rally.

Protester Jay Miranda makes his position clear.
Protester Jay Miranda makes his position clear.

"Nobody had ever associated the war on terrorism with Iraq until just recently," Glover told a reporter. "Remember, the war on terrorism was with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and everything else. ... We have to make a statement about this by stopping this ongoing war."

The San Francisco demonstration came a day after millions participated in hundreds of similar events around the world to denounce a possible U.S.-led war with Iraq. It was held Sunday in San Francisco so as not to conflict with celebrations for the Chinese New Year, which were held Saturday, International ANSWER said.

Just before a band played John Lennon's song, "Imagine," the Rev. Amos Brown, leader of the local chapter of the NAACP, invoked Jesus' words to treat others as one would like to be treated.

"We don't want people engaging in senseless acts of violence, destroying our brothers and sisters," Brown said. "We should have the heart and the courage ... not to go to Iraq or anywhere around this globe to destroy other lives who are just as precious in God's sight."

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, said the crowd should remind the world that the struggle against war is political, and that the country should elect officials who stand for peace, not war.

"We say no to a pre-emptive first strike. That is wrong," Lee said. "No to military action. Yes to disarmament and inspections. That's how we will achieve peace and security in the world."


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