Protest marking four years of war in Iraq peaceful 

Four years ago, more than 2,000 people were arrested in San Francisco protesting the United States’ invasion of Iraq.

Protesters blocked downtown streets for hours. Some tried to charge the Bay Bridge. Others vandalized buildings and slashed police cars’ tires, according to reports.

Sunday’s protest, held to mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion, was a docile scene by comparison. By 1 p.m., a few thousand people had gathered at Justin Herman Plaza and begun marching down Market Street.

Their fervor remained apparent. They carried signs reading, "Impeach the liar," "No more blood for oil," and "Out of Iraq now!" They chanted and listened to passionate speeches.

Sunday’s protesters came from throughout Northern California and from a range of circumstances: Mothers pushed strollers. College students formed large drum circles and danced wildly in the street. Children carried signs made of paper plates.

Tamar Baskind saw the protest as a teachable moment and brought her two daughters, ages 8 and 11, for the experience.

"I wanted to teach my children that it’s important to make our voices heard," she said. "This has been going on so long that a lot of these kids don’t remember when there wasn’t a war. It’s important to teach them there is another way."

San Francisco resident Toni Mendicino was one of those arrested four years ago.

"We did it on purpose," she said. "I’m not going to do that today."

On Sunday, Mendicino meandered quietly through the crowds, handing out newsletters from Radical Women, a Socialist feminist organization.

No one was arrested during the five-hour event, which ended at Civic Center Plaza.

"They’re very peaceful. They’re just marching downthe street," San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens said.

arocha@examiner.com

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