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By Doug Konecky
On Saturday, Oct. 27, Noe Valleyans Kathy Setian, Steve Hyman, and Christopher Omran are hoping to see 24th Street filled with citizens united against the war in Iraq. Oct. 27 is a National Day of Action Against the War, with rallies and marches planned in cities across the country. San Francisco's rally will take place at Civic Center Plaza, the scene of many such protests since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. But what makes this event different is that some neighborhoods will send their own contingents to the rally by first assembling in their local community.
In Noe Valley, people will meet at the corner of Castro and 24th streets at 10 a.m. and march down 24th Street toward the J-Church streetcar while carrying their homemade signs and banners. At Church Street, participants will board the streetcar together and ride to Civic Center for an 11 a.m. rally. If the streetcars are full, the marchers will continue down 24th Street to Mission Street and hop on BART.
Setian, Hyman, and Omran are at different points in their lives, but each feels frustrated with our government's refusal to take concrete steps to end the war.
Setian, an environmental engineer who is also one of the organizers of the Noe Valley march, says, "The thing I like about October 27 is that it's a genuine coalition. Many different groups with lots of different politics are participating. Our common goal is to end this war."
Hyman, who has been restoring historic sailing ships in San Francisco Bay for 31 years, is marching because he's had enough of the policies of our current president. "Too many Americans and Iraqis have died. I was in Army intelligence during the Vietnam War. I volunteered [in Vietnam]. I still believe in national service. But George Bush has made national service into a travesty. It makes me sick."
[Name removed by request] is a 15-year-old high school student at International High. What he says makes a lot of sense: "My parents have tried to convince me that if someone at school attacks me, I shouldn't hit them back, but instead try and figure out why they did it, or at least notify a teacher. But President Bush didn't ask any questions. He just went and destroyed a whole country because of the World Trade Center. And he even got the country wrong."
According to the organizers, hundreds of groups have endorsed the National Day of Action, but the local residents' reasons for getting involved have nothing to do with who else is coming.
"It's about taking control of our lives," says Hyman. "The Republicans and Democrats have failed us. I'm fed up with going about my daily life and not doing something to end this war."
Setian echoes his statements. "I'm a baby boomer. My generation was always criticizing the German people for sitting on their hands during the Nazi period. 'What were those people thinking?' we'd say. I think it's a crime against humanity to stay silent anymore."
She and the other Noe Valley participants are asking their neighbors to join them on 24th Street on Oct. 27. "You won't be alone," says Setian.
If you'd like more information about the Noe Valley march, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.oct27sf.org.