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Logan students ditch class to attend anti-Bush rally
By Josh Richman and Grace Rauh, The Argus
SAN FRANCISCO — At least 19 students from James Logan High School in Union City skipped school on Wednesday to attend a rally in San Francisco urging President Bush's ouster from office.
One student had his mother call him in sick for the day, while others cut school, walking off campus about 10:15 a.m. to head to the nearby BART station. Principal Don Montoya said he encouraged students to stay on campus and insisted that all call their parents when the students said they were leaving. Students who cut classes at Logan face a few hours of school detention or an all-day study hall detention.
One Logan junior, wearing a homemade T-shirt with an anti-Bush play on words on the front, said he did not go to school at all on Wednesday.
Christopher, 16, who refused to give his last name, said he was going to the rally to "support the people I agree with." His brother has served in Iraq and is expected to return there.
"The way I see it is, we don't want (thetroops) to risk their lives for no reason," he said.
He said his brother thinks the same thing.
"He doesn't feel we should (have been) there in the first place," Christopher said.
School officials from a number of Fremont high schools said they were not aware of any students leaving school to attend the rally.
Organizers insisted this "The World Can't Wait: Drive Out the Bush Regime" event was only the beginning of a national movement that will not rest until the president leaves office. Similar rallies occurred in cities across the nation Wednesday, the anniversary of Bush's re-election.
Though the vast 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 build-ing 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 at or near Eighth and Market streets — 11 for blocking traffic and two for possession of Molotov cocktail-type firebombs. Neither of the latter arrests was connected to the incident at the Chronicle, he said.
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 photograph 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.
Oakland High School senior Jesse Green, 16, took the stage to read an anti-Bush poem he had 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 that 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," he said.
Marchers left Civic Center via Polk Street and went 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.
Staff writers Alex Katz and Kristen Bender contributed to this report.