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Anti-Bush demonstrators march down Market Street


By Bay City News

San Francisco -- A large crowd of mostly peaceful marchers protesting the Bush administration snarled traffic on San Francisco city streets this afternoon.

While most marchers did not cause problems, police reported that 11 people were arrested for blocking the street and two others were arrested for possessing Molotov cocktails.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown at Fifth and Mission Streets, burning the jacket of a police officer.

One officer estimated that a few thousand people were taking part in the protest, which was organized by the group World Can't Wait. The group at one point took up most of a city block.

Police Sgt. Neville Gittens declined to estimate how many marchers participated. Zara Williams, who helped organize the march, said between 3,000 and 4,000 people attended.

Protest organizer Marc Terbeek said that 70 to 80 percent of the protesters were students from schools and campuses across the Bay Area.

The march began at noon today at Civic Center and later moved to Mission Street, then Third Street and back up Market Street.

The crowd was flanked by two small trucks, each carrying protesters and a large bullhorn broadcasting drumming and chants.

Marchers carried printed green and black signs in both English and Spanish that read, "Drive out the Bush Regime" and "World Can't Wait."

Other, hand-painted signs included slogans like "2027 dead and counting" and "America stands with Cindy," a reference to Bay Area resident Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq and who has protested the Iraq war.

Protesters cried out "Drive out the Bush regime! The world can't wait!" and "The people united will never be divided!"

Officers with batons and riot helmets escorted the protesters as they made their way through the downtown corridor and back up Market Street.

By about 4:30 p.m., most of the remaining marchers had arrived back at Civic Center, where another protest organizer said a specially recorded audiotape of a message from death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal would be played.

However, a splinter group of about 25 people staged a sit-in on Market Street at Eighth Street around the time the main march arrived at Civic Center.

After a verbal altercation in which several people shouted at police, at least one member of the splinter group was handcuffed.

Sgt. Gittens said nine adults and two juveniles were arrested at that intersection for blocking the roadway and failing to obey a traffic officer.

Following the arrests, a crowd of about 45 people chanted and shouted, "Let them go!" at police, and some participants videotaped the activity.

Police said at least one violent incident was linked to the protest.

Officer Maria Oropeza said an unknown person associated with the march threw an "incendiary device,'' against the wall of the San Francisco Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission streets.

Gittens later confirmed that the incendiary device was a Molotov cocktail.

"No one was hurt, but it made contact with one officer,'' Oropeza said. That officer's jacket was apparently burned, but he was not injured.

Two people were later arrested at Eighth and Market streets for possession of Molotov cocktails, but it remains unclear whether those people were involved in the incident at Fifth and Mission streets, according to Gittens.

Gittens said one other arrest may have occurred during the march, but he did not have details on that arrest.

Near the sit-in and rally, a Wells Fargo bank branch and a post office on Market Street reported being spray-painted with red protest slogans and symbols.

Greg Yuen, a bank officer at Wells Fargo, said a spray-painted anarchy symbol appeared on one of the bank's glass doors between around 4:15 p.m. and 4:50 p.m.

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