The "Walk for Life" March and Counter-Demonstration (Part 2)

( Part 1; Part 3 )

(This is Part 2 of a 3-part report; if you haven't seen Part 1 yet, you can start at the beginning here.)

All along the route, pro-choice protesters displayed their messages:

It took me a while to unravel this sign's multi-layered meaning.

Several of the pro-choice protesters were dressed in mock bloody nightshirts... represent the fatal back-alley coat-hanger abortions that women would (theoretically) die from if Roe v. Wade was overturned. (Which also explains the coat hangers seen everywhere that day.)

There were plenty of other characters on hand as well, including:

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence...

...(who were an interesting counterpoint to the real monks marching for the other side).

People who don't like God.



The Lady in Red.

Renee Zellweger rehearsing for an upcoming role as a National Lawyers Guild "legal observer."

Politicians. (This one's Mark Leno, for example.)

And a healthy crop of anarchists.

As we got near Pier 39, one of the anarchists tried to hurl simulated abortions (in reality water balloons filled with viscous red liquid and unidentified globs) at the pro-life marchers. The projectiles fell short, however, and landed on the street. Here, a policeman is carrying away the evidence.

The perpetrator was immediately surrounded by police, who began to question her. She was so freaked out, she started hyperventilating.

The police in turn were surrounded by the Black Bloc contingent shouting "Let her go, you fucking pigs!" while the girl tried to calm down with an inhaler of some sort (QuickTime mpeg video, 1.7mb).

Throughout all this, the pro-lifers filed by silently.

Some of the counter-protesters threw condoms at them as they passed.

When we got to the tourist mecca of Fisherman's Wharf, throngs of mystified onlookers crowded the sidewalk. Since few of the tourists had any idea that there were two competing groups of protesters passing through simultaneously, there was a general air of confusion in the crowd.

What the hell is going on? seemed to be the question on everyone's mind.

Crowds lined the street. When I overheard one man behind me ask his friend, "I can't figure it out: are these people anti-abortion or pro-abortion?", I interrupted to answer "Both!" The light of comprehension lit up his face.

Little flyers were circulating among the pro-choice crowd that called for a "direct action" (a euphemism for "try to start a riot") at the end of Fisherman's Wharf.

I climbed a nearby staircase to get an overview of the upcoming chaos, but when the tightly controlled phalanx of pro-lifers arrived, the "direct action" fizzled. Some anarchists shouted threats at the pro-lifers in an attempt to provoke a response; but the threats were ignored and the march sailed on without interruption.

When we got to Aquatic Park there was a bottleneck: the walkway was too narrow to accommodate the pro-lifers on one side and the pro-choicers on the other side with a row of police separating them. As a result, the cops shunted the pro-choice crowd onto the sand.

I call this shot "Anarchists on the Beach."

At the entrance to Fort Mason the cops allowed only the pro-life crowd through the gate. At that point, most of the pro-choicers gave up and dispersed.

I walked around the fort to the end point of the march where the pro-lifers were gathering at Marina Green.

A long day of marching was rewarded with a spectacular view.

But wait a minute: is that really the best way to end the story? Things seem a bit unresolved. Which side "won" -- the pro-life marchers or the pro-choice counter-protesters?

We've decided to solve the abortion debate the old-fashioned way: with a Battle of the Babes! So come along to Part 3 to see who emerged victorious after several hours of intense political combat.

Click HERE to continue to Part 3 of the report...

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