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UCLA students join anti-war protests

By Michael Jahina and Andrew Edwards

Jan. 20, 2003 9:00 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO AND YORBA LINDA ““ As the Pentagon sends more
soldiers and warships to the Persian Gulf, anti-war activists,
hundreds of them university students, again took to the streets to
protest a seemingly inevitable war against Iraq.

The California rallies took place Saturday as demonstrators
across the United States ““ including an estimated 500,000 who
braved the bitter cold in the nation’s capital ““ voiced
their opposition to a potential U.S.-led war to disarm Iraq and
perhaps remove Saddam Hussein from power.

A number of UCLA students, including members of UCLA Students
for Global Peace and Justice and UCLA’s Environmental
Coalition, trekked north to San Francisco, where they joined tens
of thousands of determined and often angry demonstrators.

“We needed to represent the student voice in the anti-war
movement,” said UCLA student Youssef Tajsar of Global Peace
and Justice.

Kabataang maka-Bayan, a UCLA Pilipino rights group, protested
not only against war, but also the U.S. and European Union’s
declaration of Pilipino Professor Jose Maria Sison, who is
currently in political asylum in the Netherlands, as an
international terrorist. Group member Michele Gutierrez, a
fourth-year international development studies and Asian American
studies student, said Sison should be considered a peace maker.

KMB also demonstrated against U.S. troops that are stationed in
the Philippines.

But they were in solidarity with the Global Peace and Justice
Coalition and the rest of the protesters in their anti-war

“We are all for finding a more peaceful resolution for
resolving the conflict in Iraq,” Gutierrez said.

Several more UCLA students went individually or with friends to
express their concern for going to war.

“It’s important to show that some people don’t
want to go to war and feel strongly about peace,” said
Cristina Diaz, a first-year women’s studies student.

Poke Ruiz, a third-year political science and history student,
was influenced by such a large and unified crowd.

“The Earth is a really scary place,” he said.

Organizers estimated that 200,000 turned out in San Francisco,
while police said 55,000, a figure many demonstrators scoffed

Students from Stanford, UC Berkeley, CSU Northridge and many
other universities also protested. They joined retirees,
middle-aged professionals, aging hippies and young children.

The rally started at the Ferry Building and led ten blocks to
city hall. Market Street, where protesters marched, was blocked off
for over six hours due to the demonstration.

On the weekend honoring Martin Luther King’s birthday,
numerous speakers said the great civil rights leader would oppose a
war against Iraq.

“Dr. King recognized the cost of war in terms of human
lives,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Berkeley, who gave
the only dissenting congressional vote against giving President
Bush open-ended authority to attack Afghanistan.

Several celebrities, including actor Martin Sheen and singer
Bonnie Raitt, voiced their support of the anti-war movement at the

“The Bush Administration has chosen economic devastation
over peace and prosperity,” Raitt said.

Dolores Huerta, formerly of United Farm Workers, led chants of
“¡Abajo con Bush!” during her speech.

“We know that Bush not only stole the election for
President, but he is stealing our tax dollars,” Huerta

Despite protesters’ outrage, the president still enjoys
high approval ratings, though they have dropped since November,
according to two new polls.

And while protesters presented President Bush and his advisors
as irresponsible leaders bent on war, the administration continues
to place ultimate responsibility for any military action on

“(Bush) is trying every means not to go to war, but the
decision to go to war is in the hands of Saddam Hussein,”
said Secretary of State Colin Powell on CBS’ “Face the

In San Francisco, on the steps of City Hall, a small group of
pro-war demonstrators battled against the massive anti-war

A man from the anti-war demonstration engaged in a verbal debate
with a woman and young child who held a painted sign that said
“I Like Bush.”

“My brother (fought) in the … Vietnam war,” the
man said, throwing in some obscenities. “You know what he
taught me? He taught me never join for war.”

The woman, holding her child screamed in return,
“Don’t say the F-Word. Don’t Say the

The man replied, “My brother died in Vietnam! Why
can’t I say the F word? I’m angry!”

The protest in Yorba Linda, an Orange County suburb, meanwhile,
was considerably smaller. Seven to 800 Green Party members,
students, soccer moms, and a few anarchists waving black flags
marched on the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and

While a few motorists shouted at the demonstrators, many more
who drove past the scene in the largely conservative community
honked their horns in agreement.

“I was just really glad to see something in Orange County
… this powerful,” said Sheila Kohanteb, a second-year
political science and anthropology student at Saddleback College
who hopes to transfer to UCLA.

With reports from Daily Bruin wire services and Rachel Been,
Daily Bruin Contributor.

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