As a wave of protests swept through a number of major U.S. cities this past weekend, a passion-fueled multinational presence gathered at Powell and Market streets in San Francisco. The event was in coordination with the Spring Rising demonstration in D.C. that called for the end of U.S.-led war and occupation in the Middle East and Central Asia, a free Palestine and the end of U.S. aid to Israel, the end of U.S. sanctions and intervention worldwide, the funding of people’s needs instead of endless war, and stopping President Obama’s Authorization for Use of Military Force.
The theme of the day was resistance in the face of imperialism. Eye-catching Palestinian flags and banners celebrated the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people, who face the racist occupation and aggression of the Israeli government headed by the unrelenting fascist Prime Minister Netanyahu. Other banners promoted solidarity with the plight of Latin American countries fighting to free themselves of U.S. influence, specifically Venezuela, whose revolutionary government has been targeted by the U.S. with failed coup attempts and sanctions outrageously characterized as humanitarian intervention.
Among the many organizations present, a number of people remembered the period prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when millions of people around the world took to the streets in opposition, seeing past the blatant lies of the Bush administration. A representative of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party said : “I think we have to have higher levels of organization, higher levels of political education. If a million people didn’t shut it down, then we’ll have to have more. And I think it’s possible, because imperialism steps on everybody. Some people think if they can get out of the way they’re gonna be OK, but we know that’s not so.” He then addressed President Obama’s threats against Venezuela, saying, “We could take a quote from our leader Malcolm X, who once said that whoever they’re against, you should be for, and whoever they’re for, you can be against … so we need to find concrete ways to support places like Venezuela.”
After hearing from various speakers on imperialist oppression taking place from the Philippines to Palestine, hundreds of people marched through downtown. Protesters stopped in front of the San Francisco Chronicle to confront the paper’s complicity with the Obama administration, along with many other corporate news outlets, in failing to address the crimes of U.S. imperialism.
Members of the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition led chants of “they’ve got trillions for war but can’t feed the poor, we’re fired up and won’t take it no more” and “money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation” as the procession appropriately made its way to the statue of Latin American independence fighter Simon Bolivar in United Nations Plaza.
As the event wrapped-up, Lara Kiswani of Arab Resource and Organizing Center provided Liberation News with a great summary of the need for people to stay vigilant: “At the heart of all this is U.S. imperialism and that gets left out of the conversation. We’re seeing the connections between Syria, Libya, Iran, Venezuela, the Philippines, Palestine.” After being asked what the American people can do, she replied: They can “continue to talk about war. There is a structural nature and character to what we are seeing today, to the death and devastation of Black and Brown people here, and the death and devastation of Black and Brown people all over the Third World. And that is the connection between global empire, global state violence, and local state violence. Just like they work hand in hand with one another … state governments from Israel, the United States, Saudi Arabia … we too, the people at the receiving end of empire, need to work hand in hand to draw on these connections and build our power to challenge global state violence.”
From San Francisco to Palestine, from Iran to Venezuela, the people are rising up to challenge their oppressors, and the whole world is taking notice.