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Demonstrations clog traffic in Santa Cruz, hold vigil in Capitola

Demonstrations clog traffic in Santa Cruz, hold vigil in Capitola


Mar 22 2003

Anti-war demonstrations unfolded around the county Thursday as the U.S. war on Iraq stepped up. Protesters kept at it most of the day, staging vigils, loud demonstrations and sit-ins at the military recruitment center in Capitola, the town clock in Santa Cruz and at Watsonville Plaza.
As dusk fell, as many as 1,500 demonstrators, from seniors to children and family pets, took part in a noisy march through downtown Santa Cruz. The crowd was so dense that it spilled into most lanes of traffic as it moved through downtown to lower Ocean Street, along Water Street and Soquel Avenue, then back downtown. Traffic snarled in all directions as Santa Cruz police struggled to divert rush-hour traffic around the marchers who waved signs and chanted slogans.
At times the march spread out over about 10 city blocks; at others, it splintered off in different directions, making it difficult for police to corral the protesters and direct vehicles safely around them.
At the military recruitment center in Capitola, protesters waved signs, sang songs and banged on drums, eliciting horn blasts and shrieks from passing motorists. While some drivers flashed peace signs and hollered words of support for the demonstrators, others clearly gave them the thumbs-down. Several motorists yelled, “Support our troops” or “Get a life!”
Capitola police were joined by a Rapid Response team of about 25 deputies from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office. The California Highway Patrol also had officers on hand to help with traffic safety.
“I’m concerned about justice for the Iraqi people,” said Jessica Wolf. “I’ve heard a lot of rhetoric by the White House to rationalize this war and a lot of it comes down to bullying others into an agreement. To enforce one’s vision on another country, I think, is reprehensible. I feel this war is going to breed terrorism at home.”
Capitola Police Lt. Pat White said the 41st Avenue protesters were organized and well behaved Thursday. “We want to make sure there is no violence, that no one gets hurt and that there is no property damage,” White said. “We certainly know there is a great deal of anti-war sentiment but these businesses can operate their regular hours without being interrupted.”
The Santa Cruz march finally wound its way along Pacific Avenue, back up Water Street and into the parking lot at the Santa Cruz County Building. As darkness fell, various speakers addressed the crowd over a loudspeaker as to their beliefs about why to protest the war.

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