Part II [Warning: Pro-Life bias ahead – Read at your own risk]

We left for the Walk for Life around 10, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, and arrived in San Francisco. We were driving around looking for parking, and Pete stopped to ask a bus drive where the nearest parking garage was. The bus driver looked strangely at Pete, and said “just around the corner.” As Pete got back into the car, he looked up and saw a PARKING sign with 10 foot high letters. No wonder the bus driver looked at him a bit strangely.
We only had to walk a few blocks to the March for Life, and we found the square full of people listening to pro-life speakers. They were handing out signs saying “Women deserve better than abortion.” We went over and picked up some. Pete, being his typical lazy self, stuck the stick of the sign down the back of his sweater so he didn’t have to be bothered with carrying it.
As we skirted the fringes of the crowd, we came upon some interesting people, like one guy who was riding around on a bike with coat hangars around his neck shouting “Coat Hangars for Sale,” a couple angry women with some vulgar anti-Christian signs, and a few other such interesting characters. However, in that square there were only 6 or 7 such people, and there were thousands of Pro-lifers.

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We listened to the last few speakers while wandering around trying to find some other TAC people. They had a woman from “Democrats for Life.” As their next to last speaker. The reception of that speech was kind of interesting, because whenever she spoke about being pro-life, the crowd would cheer and applaud loudly, but when she talked about being a proud Democrat, there was only a timid polite applause. Possibly because the Democrat Mayor was attending the Pro-Abortion Rally, and the Democrat councilmen of San Francisco had declared that day to be “Stand Up for Choice Day.”

However, the last speaker they had was very enjoyable to listen too, as they had gotten a black Baptist preacher to fire up the crowd before starting the march.
He started out with a very erudite intelligent brief speech about the evils of our society and abortion, and then proceeded to the stereotypical black Baptist preacher style (“And the Lord will bless us as we go to witness to our misled brethren about the evils of abortion!” etc), which really got the crowd revved up and ready to go.
The march started gradually, because we had to wind around, cross the street, and make our way along the road next to the harbor.

The harbor side of the road was lined with anti-life counter-protestors, and the ones at the beginning seemed headed by a man on a small platform with a bullhorn shouting about how Hitler was “anti-choice” and wouldn’t allow women to have abortions. Apparently he had forgotten some of his history, since Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood was a staunch Nazi supporter, and I’m sure Hitler would have advocated any means to exterminate the Jews and Poles. However, if he did forbid Ayran women from having abortions (which I’m going to try to look up before I post this) that doesn’t necessarily mean that forbidding women from killing their children is a bad thing.
Anyway, since we all knew he had his history mixed up, all he did was make himself ridiculous, especially when he made far-fetched references to the orange shirts to volunteers were wearing like “Oh, so I see today that orange shirts have replaced the brown shirts.” Um…yeah….right…
Speaking of Planned Parenthood, the vast majority o counter-protestors were carrying signs made by Planned Parenthood, so it was clear that the counter-protest was probably organized, or at least sponsored, by them.

The sheer number of counter-protesters was somewhat of a shock to me. When I went to the March for Life in Washington last year, there were tens of thousands of pro-lie marchers, and a very small contingent of about 50-100 counter-protesters, who were in their own little sections in front of the Supreme Court surrounded by the police.
Here, they had hundreds of people lining the roads, and the police formed a moving barricade between the pro-lifers on the street and the anti-life marchers on the sidewalk. While the majority of them were carrying Planned Parenthood signs, and fair amount of them were carrying homemade signs, many of which were vulgar or had foul-language.
The contrast between the pro-lifers and the anti-lifers was rather striking.
There were people of all ages on both sides, although the pro-lifers tended to have more young people under 25 (I wonder why?). The typical anti-lifers were either angry women in their 30s and 40s, usually without kids, or teens/twentysomethings dressed like punks. Of course, there was a nice assortment of the standard San Fran types, the gay and lesbian people, the leftover hippies, and other protest types. There were some families on the other side, and one of the most poignant pictures that day was this one which Mary took of a small girl.

The pro-lifers in general were moms and dads with families, although there were alot of youth and college groups out there as well. People generally were dressed conservatively, within TAC dress code guidelines (I forgot to mentions that most of the anti-lifers between 12 and 25 were dressed pretty immodestly), and they moved along quietly, talking amongst themselves or praying aloud, in contrast to the raucous shouting and angry chanting of the anti-lifers.

After marching for awhile, I ran into Steve Six. He was able to tell me that the rest of the TACers, having slept at an auditorium attached to a convent, had gotten there earlier, and were at the beginning carrying the big banner and acting as crowd control. He had parked the van and was hurrying through to catch up with them at the front. We followed him, and in 15-20 minutes had made our way to the front, where we were greeted by 30-40 TAC students in orange “Walk for Life” shirts. The girls were in the front carrying the banner, and the guys acted as crowd control on the sides. We continued marching along the harbor for a while.

At one point, the counter protesters formed a chain across the street and tried to block our advance. The police took a few minutes to resolve the situation, but eventually the counter protesters moved off the street when the police started getting their 3-4 foot riot batons out of their holsters.

This happened again several blocks later, only with a much larger group of counter protesters, several ranks deep, who sat down in the street. Even with bullhorns and motorcycles, the police couldn’t convince them to move (this may have been because some of them were smoking pot). Rather than actually beat the counter-protesters and forcibly move them off the street, the police decided that it would be easier to move the walk to an alternate route, so we took a side street. Confused by this move, the counter-protesters never regained their former organization, they only showed up in small groups, not the long, semi-cohesive line on the sidewalk they had formed earlier.
Some of them again tried to move onto the street with a small banner, but the police frightened them away with the sight and sound of several hundred horsepower motorcycles aimed at them.

Eventually we moved onto a small street right next to the bay, with no sidewalks, so we were the only ones on it along with the police and a few joggers. It was very peaceful, walking along, looking at Alcatraz in the bay, seeing the sailboats gracefully wend their way across the gleaming water, having the sunlight filter down on us through evergreen trees arching over our heads.

Eventually the road turned away from the bay into a large grassy field. We were joined by a few photographers there, but most of the counter-protesters had been left behind. They had a short talk at the end of the walk, thanking everyone, especially the police department.
After that I borrowed Mary’s cell to call Lizzy, and talked to her for a few minutes.
I wanted to take a picture of a guy wearing a red shirt with a yellow communist star on it, so I pointed him out to Mary, because she had the camera at the time. However, one of his friends came over and started berating us about not asking permission before taking his picture. I respectfully debated with him for a bit, but since he wasn’t being that respectful, I didn’t want a full-blown confrontation, and it really wasn’t worth my time we eventually just left him to go down by the shore.

We sat there for awhile, enjoying the sea breeze and the relaxing sound of the waves crashing against the rocks. Then we rejoined the rest of the large group at a monument, and talked about our impressions for awhile until Pete picked our group up.
Cool dude who was roller-blade-sailing.

We then drove around San Francisco for a bit, stopped and walked for awhile, and ended up at a little burrito place.
The food there was very good, and we had a fun little time there, playing with Pete’s camera phone, taking pictures of random people through the window (in spite of our earlier experience) and other random stuff.
Eventually we got back in the car after a good day.

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