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2,000 attend rally in San Francisco to oppose Bush
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER
SAN FRANCISCO — About 2,000 people rallied and marched Wednesday to urge President Bush's ouster from office.
Organizers insisted this "The World Can't Wait: Drive Out the Bush Regime" event was only the beginning of a national, ongoing movement that won't rest until the president leaves office. Similar rallies occurred in cities across the nation Wednesday, the anniversary of Bush's re-election.
Though the majority of San Francisco protesters were peaceful, there were a few incidents.
Someone threw a crude firebomb against a wall of the San Francisco Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission streets, causing no damage or injuries but burning the shoulder of a police officer's jacket. And a few protesters staged a sit-in blocking a downtown intersection toward the day's end.
San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens reported 13 arrests, all on or near Eighth and Market streets: 11 for blocking traffic and two for possession of "Molotov cocktail"-type firebombs.
Speakers at the noon Civic Center Plaza rally included "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan of Berkeley, whose August vigil outside the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch made international headlines.
Suspended from a pink ribbon around her neck Wednesday was a photo of her son, Casey, a soldier killed in Baghdad in April 2004.
"He's damaged the world, he's damaged our country, he's damaged my family," Sheehan said of Bush. "He's trying to steal our humanity, and we can't let him, we must resist that."
State Sen. Carole Migden,
D-San Francisco, also addressed the rally, calling Bush "a heartless, corrupt, inconsistent, uncaring, disastrous president."
Citing the mounting death toll in Iraq, erosion of American civil liberties, the botched response to Hurricane Katrina and other calamities, she said "we couldn't have made this up, this is beyond imagination. ...
We're going to take back our lives and our futures."
Organizers had urged college and high school students to walk out of classes to attend Wednesday's events, and the crowd included many youths.
Marchers left Civic Center via Polk Street to 10th Street, turned left on Mission Street, left again on Third Street, and left again on Market Street to return to the Civic Center for a closing rally.
Oakland High School senior Jesse Green, 16, took the stage to read an anti-Bush poem he'd written. Afterward, he claimed school officials had taken Draconian measures — putting up barbed wire, greasing the campus fences to prevent climbing, locking gates and adding extra security guards — to keep students from walking out.
"There were supposed to be more of us, a hundred, coming out," he said. "A few of us made it, about 14."
But no such measures were visible at the school later Wednesday. Principal Clement Mok said administrators "don't discourage them (students) from attending political stuff, we just require them to have parental consent to leave campus for any reason" — a legal requirement.
Mok said although no students offered parental consent Wednesday, up to 50 hopped fences or found other ways off campus. "If a student is going to force their way out, we're not going to physically restrain them."
Staff writers Alex Katz and Kristen Bender contributed to this report. Contact Josh Richman at firstname.lastname@example.org.