Forty-six anti-war protesters were arrested Friday morning as they tried to block workers from entering the Federal Building in San Francisco, authorities said.
The protest came hours after Congress approved the use of U.S. military might against Iraq. Both the House and Senate passed, and sent to the White House, a resolution authorizing President Bush to use military force.
Forming picket lines around the Federal Building’s entrances at 7 a.m., about 500 protesters, mostly from sponsoring groups like Not In Our Name, Berkeley Stop the War and Global Exchange, chanted slogans like “We want peace on foreign soil – no blood for oil.”
Their efforts succeeded in keeping most federal workers out of their offices until the protesters dissolved the lines just after 10 a.m., declaring victory.
Many of the demonstrators had been at the Federal Building since the Congressional vote Thursday, staying in tents and sleeping bags and calling for the Bush administration to avoid the use of military action.
Philip Batchelder, 33, a landscaper and self-described social activist from Berkeley, carried a U.S. flag with corporate logos taking the place of stars.
“It’s supposed to signify who this war is being orchestrated for,” he said. “Killing is not the answer.”
As federal employees started to arrive Friday morning, police officers lined up behind metal barricades.
“I’m amused by this behavior,” said an employee of the U.S. General Services Administration who didn’t want to give his name. He called the protester actions counterproductive, saying, “they don’t go anywhere doing this.”
After 10 a.m., some of the activists marched to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco headquarters. Feinstein , D-California, voted in favor of the war resolution. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, did not.
Bay Area representatives voted overwhelmingly against the bill. Only 2 of the 13 representatives, Tom Lantos , D-San Mateo and Ellen Tauscher, D-Contra Costa County, supported it.
Organizers of the San Francisco rally insisted there was still a reason to speak up.
“We’re protesting the whole deal,” said Aimara, a member of Not In Our Name. “People look to the Bay Area to set the precedent in resistance. If we don’t do it, they will think there is nothing to protest about.”
“A lot of people here are very angry,” added Starhawk, an organizer and a member of Women's Preemptive Strike for Peace.
Authorities said 44 of the arrested were to be cited and released later in the day and will be fined $25. Two others arrested were charged with assaulting a federal prosecutor and were being detained, said Esther Timberlake, a spokeswoman with the General Services Administration.
The building houses federal courts and government agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and FBI.
Anti-war organizers said they have a much bigger rally up their sleeves for Oct. 26. They expect that the event, coordinated with a similar one in Washington, D.C., will bring as many as half a million people to San Francisco.
-The Associated Press
contributed to this story