(San Francisco, February 30) Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators crowded the streets of San Francisco today to protest a possible war with Iraq. Protesters marched through the streets angrily confronting police officers, smashing windows, and blocking trafic. But there is concern among organizers tonight that the actions of a few individuals may overshadow the overall spirit of the event.
At about 3:00 in the afternoon, a few dozen protesters broke off from the main demonstration and walked back up Market Street. They were observed passing by a number of windows, which remained intact. They smiled and waved at police as they passed by. One of the protesters was carrying a baby, who was reportedly very cute and played peek-a-boo with passersby. Among the protesters was a friendly dog that let people pet it. Demonstrators were overheard singing songs such as "Give Peace a Chance," and "Where Have all the Flowers Gone." Some were seen sharing food with each other. According to police, their chants included a dismaying lack of obscene words.
Police lieutenant Bustin Hedz commented, "It's a darn shame when a violent protest like this turns peaceful. Most of the people that came today came expecting to participate in a violent demonstration. Then you've got a bunch of guys like these (peaceful protesters)."
Asked whether the actions of a few individuals had ruined the demonstration, organizer Madat T. System replied, "I don't think so. I think people understand that, overall, this was a very violent demonstration. A lot of people came here to smash windows and scuffle with cops, and that's what we did. It is unfortunate that the actions of a very few individuals are going to receive more attention than they really deserve. Whenever a few people get peaceful, the press always blows it way out of proportion."
System refused to condemn the peaceful protesters, saying, "I respect their right to express themselves however they choose. It's just too bad, because now this whole thing is going to be labeled as a peaceful demonstration."
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