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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

May, 2008


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No Town Too Small
Anti-war movement not just a "big city" thing
By Silvio Rodrigues

Jim Emmott of Forest Knolls, Calif., has been to a number of anti-war demonstrations in San Francisco and elsewhere. But when it comes to protesting, there is no place like home.
"The first day you stand out in the street in your hometown, it turns into a 24-hour event," said Emmott. "People see you in the store, or call you up for a job, and the demonstration comes up in conversation."

Emmott is a seasoned activist with the Forest Knolls Peace Center, which has organized weekly street demonstrations for the past five years. Party for Socialism and Liberation members Gloria La Riva and Silvio Rodrigues had the opportunity to meet Emmott during a chance encounter on March 16.

That day, 82 people stood by the side of the road in Forest Knolls with ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and PSL placards they collected over the years at major anti-war mobilizations, as well as many signs of their own.

At the nearby Peace Center, pro-Palestine banners hung outside the building.

"The Forest Knolls Peace Center and protest is an accumulation of a ... core group who contribute in different ways to make the overall protest and peace movement what it is in Forest Knolls," Emmott explains, acknowledging the important role played by each organizer. "This has been key to the protest sustaining itself."

Emmott considers the issue of Palestine to be key for peace in the Middle East. Emmott's wife, Kate Hart, wrote regular letters in defense of Palestine to the Point Reyes Light newspaper, until its old management came under pressure from prominent Zionists to stop printing them.

"The stories used to justify colonialism in Palestine are very similar to the ones that were used to justify colonialism in what is now this country," Emmott explained, referring to the false tales of vast empty lands ready for the taking, or the fabricated "attacks" that colonizers endured from the Indigenous populations.

Emmott says that on any given day of demonstrations, they get more than 450 positive gestures from drivers and pedestrians, from a "thumbs up" to a friendly honk of the horn. On many occasions, Arab and Muslim passersby have stopped their cars and got out to thank, hug and even have their photos taken with demonstrators.

When the mainstream media bothers to cover the anti-war movement at all, it will at best mention the larger demonstrations in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York. In reality, Forest Knolls is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of small towns across the United States that are actively standing up against U.S. imperialism. Each of them is an important thread in the fabric of the anti-war movement.

"You can't just suddenly have peace one day," Emmott said. "You really have to change the system, you know what I mean?"

published by mysanfrancisco.bus

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