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Stateside With Rosalea: Peregranacion Por La Paz

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Peregranacion Por La Paz

Listen To The Peace Blessing – Windows Media File

I went on the Peace March this morning. The audio file (click above) is part of the blessing we were given by a local Native American leader, one of the Vietnam War conscientious objectors who got a health clinic and a law clinic established in the Fruitvale/Oakland area during the '60s. The clinics still operate today.

His words are somewhat overwhelmed by the sound of the helicopter overhead--I wasn't quite able to figure if it was a news helicopter somehow being spared from its important duties of looking out for fires and traffic jams at 7:30 in the morning, or a police helicopter.

From our gathering place at Fruitvale BART station, our little band--which included some folks who'd marched the 241 miles from Tijuana in emulation of Gandhi's Salt March--walked first to a nearby Catholic high school, where children lined the street and gave us their blessing.

We called on a couple of public primary schools and a couple of charter schools as well, but got to one school so late in the morning that the kids had already walked out of class and taken BART over to San Francisco to support the hunger strikers who are protesting the immigration law currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I guess our presence was seen as an important civics lesson for the kids, and it would have been linked into lessons about the Civil Rights Movement, when high school children played a big part in turning public opinion against the South's assertion that the doctrine of states' rights meant they could ignore federal laws regarding the integration of schools.

And our march also had a link to the Farm Workers Movement, which touched even foreign countries because they called for a boycott of California grapes and other products harvested by immigrants. Who still make up most of the agricultural workers today, and whom Sen. Diane Feinstein has suddenly introduced an amendment in favour of exempting from the punitive aspects of the bill now before the Senate.

At one of the schools we stopped at, two Latina students had made a poster saying "Our parents are not criminals", to which one of the Iraq War conscientious objectors said he wanted to add the words, "And their sons and daughters are not mercenaries." For all the fuss that's being made about illegal immigrants, they are heavily recruited by the military--in fact, it's a way that can become naturalized.

We stopped at a community college for a breather before continuing to one of the Oakland BART stations to go to San Francisco. By this time we had attracted a brace of high school students stumping for one of Oakland's mayoral candidates, and were confronted by several BART police standing in a somewhat intimidating pose just inside the turnstiles.

At that moment, as the few dozen of us not taking the bus over the bridge arrived in the station, an announcement came on the public address system to the effect that because of a "police action" there would be delays to trains going to San Francisco.

I later saw in the paper that it was because of a suspicious package spotted near an entrance to one of the City stations, coincidentally the one immediately before the station the marchers were planning to get off at in order to march on Feinstein's office.


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