As Americans gathered to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, some San Franciscans turned out to provide a counterpoint.
About 250 people opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan met on the Golden Gate Bridge, where they held hands for several minutes of silence. “It was a beautiful experience,” said organizer Toby Blome of the anti-war group Code Pink .
Protesters then rallied at the bridge’s Lone Sailor Memorial .
“As this anniversary approached, we got told how to feel, we got told how to think,” said Stephanie Tang, of the group World Can’t Wait. “We got told to think about America’s loss, but not the loss of life since America used 9/11 as an excuse to go to war.”
Tang spoke through a bullhorn, with a backdrop of five people dressed as Guantanamo Bay detainees. As she finished, the crowd broke into a chant: “The people declare peace!”
Meanwhile, several Navy officers in dress whites stood waiting for the rally to end. Cmdr. Robert Simone said the sailors planned a re-enlistment ceremony.
“We were here first,” Simone explained. “I asked them for five minutes, just to wait, and they very quickly refused.”
Blome said she declined the sailors’ request because she did not want to facilitate anybody’s re-enlistment.
Earlier Sunday, about 50 people who believe the terrorist attacks were actually the work of the U.S. government met at The Embarcadero with a large inflatable elephant and signs proclaiming “9/11 was an inside job.”
“I think 9/11 was a catalyst to take away our democracy, and we don’t even know the truth about 9/11,” said Leigh Kalvelage of Trinity County. “Who did it?”