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Protesters Target Iraq 'War-Profiteers'
Military.com  |  By Kelly Johnson  |  March 19, 2008
On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, protestors took to the streets of San Francisco to show their objection to the war and corporations that financially support the conflict.

The March 19 protest, organized by the anti-war group Direct Action to Stop the War, targeted government offices, federal agencies and corporations that DASW believes conducted business with the U.S. military or have dealings with Iraq.

"We are focusing primarily on corporations with military or Iraqi contracts, because we want to focus attention on the prominent role played by war-profiteering corporations in the U.S. occupation of Iraq," a pre-protest statement said.

Companies and government agencies targeted by DASW included the San Francisco Federal Building, an Army Recruiting Office, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office, Credit Suisse bank, Chevron Energy Solutions and the local television affiliates of NBC and Fox.

The demonstration in San Francisco is one of dozens conducted around the country by groups opposed to the Iraq war five years after it was launched.

While the conflict has been generally unpopular nationwide for years, security gains achieved since the troop "surge" in 2007 have moderated America's outlook on the war. A Newsweek poll conducted early this month showed a 13 percent increase in those who believe the situation in Iraq is improving since a similar question was asked last year.

But that hasn't stopped impassioned war critics from making their voices heard.

As a small crowd of heavy-eyed protestors gathered early in the San Francisco morning, a protest organizer calmly told them "our goal is to stop the war and war-profiteering businesses through a non-violent protest today."

"No business as usual until all U.S. troops are withdrawn from Iraq," he continued, reading from notes.
 
The protest groups tried to disrupt businesses by blocking the entrances to buildings, handcuffing themselves to the doors, staging sit-ins or die-ins -- or other attention-grabbing street theater -- or by pelting "war-profiteering businesses" with rotten vegetables.

By 8:00 that morning, organizers happily told the crowd of protestors that a small contingent of volunteers had already chained themselves to the Chevron corporate office and the Federal Reserve building about six blocks away. A smattering of applause rippled through the small crowd as protesters quietly rooted for their activist comrades.

As the event gathered steam later in the day, hooded "GITMO" costumes arrived and presidential parodies popped up.  

"We want San Franciscans to stop and think about the damage that our government has done to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan," said protest organizer Michael Reagan, in a DASW statement "Five years of war and destruction is far more than any people should have to bear, and we hold accountable the government leaders and corporations that have let this go on for way too long."

The city of San Francisco prepared for the protests by increasing the police presence around the targeted businesses and on main streets in the downtown area. Several police cars and officers lined Market Street -- a busy San Francisco thoroughfare and starting point for the protest -- ready to arrest any activists that tried to block intersections or disrupt traffic.  

"The only thing that will stop this war machine is when the people of this country rise up. This is a war for the Empire, but it's not our empire," a protest statement read. "The owners of Citibank, Chevron and the other corporate elites will profit from the Empire but it is not their sons and daughters who are sent to kill and be killed."

The all-day protest was scheduled to carry on throughout the city and end with a rally in front of San Francisco's capital building where Cindy Sheehan -- the mother of a fallen Soldier and outspoken critic of the Iraq War and the Bush Administration -- was expected to speak.

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