SF Activists Protest 6-Year Iraq War Anniversary

A San Francisco police captain said officers made four arrests during an anti-war protest today in which demonstrators blocked Market Street.

Protests were planned throughout the Bay Area today, including one  that was slated to begin at 11:30 at Market and Montgomery streets in San  Francisco.

At some point protesters began to block the intersection and police cited 22 people, police Capt. D. McDonagh said. Four protesters were later arrested for resisting a peace officer, he said.

Protest organizer Dolores Priem, who is with the group Iraq Moratorium, claimed she and about 15 others were arrested but were then cited  and released.

She said renowned activist Daniel Ellsberg was among the group,  and that after he was released he and several others returned to Market  Street.

"They went back and laid down again," Priem said.

Around 1 p.m., Ellsberg and three others were cuffed and placed  into the back of a police van. Responding to a question from a reporter,  Ellsberg yelled from the back of the van that he has been arrested more than  70 times.

Priem said around 2 p.m. that Ellsberg had been taken to jail.  "They took them to the Hall of Justice," she said. "I think that's where they  are now."

Dozens of people participated in the protests, which drew even  more onlookers. Some of the protesters wore pink stickers that read "Make out  not war" and others carried anti-war signs. One man sang and played guitar.

Retired nurse Anita Paraiso marveled at the number of officers  assigned to the protest.

"Why do they have so many police officers out here?" she asked.  "It's a waste of time."

She said she had been watching the events unfold but that it took  her a while to figure out what the protest was about.

Protests took place throughout the Bay Area to mark the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war.

On the other side of the city, about a dozen activists gathered at the Glen Park Bay Area Rapid Transit station in San Francisco Thursday to highlight their message that the war is far from over.

Representatives from several activist groups and veterans who served in Iraq placed black military boots outside the station, each pair representing someone from the Bay Area who died in the line of duty.

They also spray-painted a pair of boots white to represent hundreds of veterans who have committed suicide.

Jordan Towers, 25, said he served in Iraq for nine months with the U.S. Marine Corps. Towers said he suffers from hip and hand pains that have not been treated, and that memories from his deployment are causing him anxiety because he can't share them with just anyone.

"It doesn't stay in Iraq," he said.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs told him it would take three to six months before it could schedule an appointment with a psychologist, he said.

He said he mainly joined the Marines because his mother, a single mom of three, could not afford to send him to school. He is now studying political science at a community college in Sacramento.

Rachel Avila Normandy said her son Ryan, 25, was in Iraq for about six months and was sent home after shrapnel hit his face, leaving him with wounds to his eyes and brain injuries.

Normandy said her son came back to the U.S. in May 2005 and can now see through his left eye. He just started school and is moving forward, but his emotional scars are beyond comprehension, she said.

The display attracted a few BART passengers who were hurrying through the station. Most stopped only briefly to accept a flier.

Two women stopped to read some of the nametags on the boots while a few others paused to take pictures of the display.

An organizer of the demonstration said she is hoping people will at least walk away with the idea that war is not the answer.

"Every city, every community in every state is hurting," organizer Sandra Schwartz said. "The most important thing is to remember it's going to take all of us to help these victims."

War protesters planned numerous demonstrations throughout the Bay Area Thursday.

San Francisco police expected a march set up by the Act Now to Stop War and Racism coalition Saturday will be the biggest event.

"I think the best thing anyone can do is be informed," Towers said.

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