CITY HEIGHTS, SAN DIEGO, CA: Nearly a thousand San Diegans participated in a march and rally against the Iraq war and occupation in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego, today. Famed novelist and social critic Gore Vidal spoke at the rally in Teralta Park.
The protests began around 1:00 p.m. at the corner of University Avenue and Fairmount, a busy intersection in the mid-city, where dozens waved flags and displayed signs to passing motorists, many of whom honked in support.
Gradually over the next hour, the crowd swelled into the hundreds. By time the demonstrators took to the street for the march, they were 650 strong. I know. I stood on the corner and counted heads as they passed. With San Diego Police officers blocking intersections, the protesters moved down University Avenue for about a mile, crossed the bridge over I-805, and proceeded a block north to the park.
By the time the march reached Teralta Park, they were joined by folks already at the site and others who streamed in to hear the speakers. When Gore Vidal spoke, the crowd numbered between 800 and a 1000.
Organized by the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, the demonstration stressed the economic costs of the war and occupation, to the detriment of our employment, health care, education and social service needs as a society. Many of the signs called for an end to the war, for peace, for jobs, health care, for “books not bombs,” and for impeachment of both Bush and Cheney.
Gore Vidal was carried to the stage from his wheelchair, and delivered his condemnation of the Bush administration in his trademark personal, and witty style. With a references to his old nemesis who recently died, Vidal had the crowd chuckling from the start – “I am not William F. Buckley.” Commenting that Bush should have gone long ago, Vidal mentioned that the president had attempted to grab onto the executive powers that Presidents Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt had. He explained that because he lives in Italy, he is constantly apologizing to Italians that Americans are not really as stupid as we look. He said that “as a life-long Democrat, I would be happy with either Clinton or Obama.” The crowd loved him, and gave Gore Vidal a standing ovation at the end of his all-too-brief talk.
Other speakers included Martin Eder – an event organizer, Dr. Jeoff Gordon – an Ocean Beach practitioner who spoke on the threats to the health care system due to the war, Maria Lopez – a local City Heights resident, Floyd Morrow – who has recently thrown his hat into the mayoral race, and representatives from various religious communities, Veterans for Peace, and Mission Bay High School students fighting the school bringing guns on campus via ROTC. (Apologies to those others who spoke that I didn’t mention.)
(Photos by Patty Jones.)