9/11 Truth March and Power to the Peaceful Festival

San Francisco, September 8, 2007

Held on September 8, 2007 -- just before the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- San Francisco's "9/11 Truth March" wended its way through the city's Haight-Ashbury district and Golden Gate Park to the "Power to the Peaceful" festival in the park's Speedway Meadow. The goal behind the 9/11 Truth March was to raise awareness that the events of September 11, 2001 were either a hoax, or were carried out by George Bush and Dick Cheney and their minions, or were a planned demolition by neocon warmongers to create an excuse for starting a war, or were a mass hallucination, or something along those lines. The "Power to the Peaceful" festival is a combination all-day music concert and political shindig that has become an annual event. Blending "progressive" music, radical rhetoric, and revolutionary politics, Power to the Peaceful attracts tens of thousands of revelers and activists.

But let's start at the beginning.

Based on reports that the previous year's 9/11 Truth Marches had been well-attended, I showed up at the pre-march rally expecting a big crowd. Imagine my shock when I found only ten people in attendance.

Where was everybody? What about all the news stories that the 9/11 Truth movement had gone mainstream and that 42% of Democrats nationwide did not believe in the "official version" any more?

Luckily, two superheroes had shown up to save the day: Trutherman and 9/11 Woman!

Around 11am, the march headed off. By the time we reached Haight Street, the crowd had swelled to about 15 people.

At the fabled intersection of Haight and Ashbury, everybody stopped and posed for photos.

Then it was off down Haight Street, through what should have been the most sympathetic neighborhood in America. Yet enthusiasm was hard to come by. Practically no one even turned to look.

This video shows the marchers singing The Ballad of 9/11 Truth. Here are the lyrics:

The Ballad of 9/11 Truth:

Nine-eleven was an inside job!

Orchestrated by the Cheney mob!

Nine-eleven was a special op!

Only justice gonna make 'em stop!

Building Seven was a smoking gun!

Now the neocons are on the run!

Nine-eleven was an inside job!

Orchestrated by the Cheney mob!

Nine-eleven was a special op!

Only justice gonna make 'em stop!

How not to pick up girls: Dress like a street bum, smell like a street bum, join a conspiracy cult, and try to give them fake money. Works every time!

With our number now at almost 20 people (including children), we headed off into Golden Gate Park for the two-mile stroll to the Power to the Peaceful festival, where we were sure to find plenty of like-minded people!

On the way, we passed a giant purple head emerging from the ground.

As we neared our destination, we encountered a gaggle of Ron Paul supporters.
(If you are unfamiliar with the Ron Paul phenomenon, count yourself lucky.)

We finally arrived at the Power to the Peaceful festival. It was huge!

Up on the main stage, some hip-hoppers rapping about Mumia Abu Jamal were warming up the crowd for the Indigo Girls, who were next on the performance schedule.

The Ron Paul crew had arrived so late that they had to scrounge around to find a good empty spot for their booth. The other political groups had all installed their tables many hours earlier.

These two "chimperor" drummers were part of a Peace Parade that arrived shortly after I did.

Here's a video of the parade and the drumming chimperors.
(The video above may take a few seconds to load. If you can't view it for some reason, you can see it on its own page here.)

This pseudo-memorial to a fallen Universal Soldier was one of many anti-war installations around the festival.

Finally I found the 9/11 Truth booth. My fellow marchers (from whom I had become separated) had obviously been here and deposited some of their signs, but they had already wandered off.

But plenty of dementia-inducing Truth Swag was available for the curious.

Would you like some Truth, my friend?

But Truthism and Ron Paul-itis were not the main themes at the Power to the Peaceful festival. No, the real focus of the event was communism. Yes, communism. And for the sticklers out there: I use the term as a sort of generalized catch-all to describe the many varieties and gradations of communism to be found at the event, including socialism, Stalinism, anarcho-syndicalism, Marxism, Maoism, "people's revolution," and so on. There's no single word that best emcompasses all these political views better than the simple "communism," so that's the word I'm going to use, like it or not.

For example, here we see the Stalinist A.N.S.W.E.R. booth...

...the Maoist World Can't Waiters...

..the communist Revolution Youth brigade...

...the Party for Socialism and Liberation...

...Socialist Action...

...the Revolutionary Communist Party...

...and the Marxist Revolutionary Workers group, to name just a few. Every one of these organizations were official sponsors of the "Power to the Peaceful" festival, let it be noted. So -- by "peaceful" do they really mean "communist"?

All this advocacy for communism seemed to have absolutely no effect on the festival attendees, however, as capitalism was rampant and the urge to buy was unsuppressable! The booth selling logo-branded Power to the Peaceful festival merchandise was overwhelmed with customers.

Well, even a good communist has to make a profit -- right?

In the this-can't-be-legal-can-it? category, the "Medical Edibles" booth was selling baked goods and sweets made with marijuana. (Turn down your volume before visiting the Medical Edibles MySpace page.)

Theoretically, one must have a prescription to purchase "medical marijuana" from a licensed dispensary, but these folks were just taking money and handing out cannabis to anyone -- no presciptions required, no ID to check your age, come and get it.

Out in the crowd, a freelance drug dealer had come up with a new technique: he attached a hash pipe to a fishing rod, and used it to lure in customers.

The air was thick with...uh...possibilities! Yeah, that's it. Possibilities.

All age groups found enlightenment at the Cannabis Action Network booth.

Aha! After much searching, I rediscovered my Truther cohorts. Here, 9/11 Woman handed out literature to passing fans. (Notice the "9/11 Was an Inside Job" sticker on her torso.)

Trutherman was on a mission!

He prowled the crowd, looking for someone to rescue.

Spotting someone in the distress of 9/11 unenlightment, he took out his superhero weapon -- 9/11 info cards!

"Here you go, ma'am. Have some Truth!"

Another successful adventure for Trutherman!

Onstage, the Indigo Girls droned on and on.

Mainstream-ish political groups were at the festival as well. Here, a member of the Kucinich contingent smiles for the camera.

The Green Party tried to drum up funding, one dollar at a time.

But the least-popular booth of all belonged to -- you guessed it -- the Democrats, who tried in vain to register people to vote on an ironing board.

My favorite area by far was the AcroYoga zone. Now that's some nice AcroYoga!

Nearby, Ye Olde Fashioned hippie drum circle was in full bloom.

Please don't hurt Peace. Because Peace is sad.

The giant purple head that we encountered earlier had some oversized company at the festival: a gargantuan inflatable bison...

...and a Brobdingnagian milk carton, advertising missing Juarez factory girls.

It looks like the relentless marketing of Palestinian kaffiyehs to teenage girls is starting to pay off. These photos all show young fashionistas at the festival sporting the latest style: the anti-war scarf -- ...

... oops, I mean the breezy global-chic scarf -- ...

...no, that's the Riviera scarf -- ...

...er, hold on, that's the Euro scarf -- ahhh, the hell with it! It's a symbol of terrorism sold to ignorant young airheads who know nothing of what they're promoting!

It certainly caught Trutherman's eye!

Speaking of Palestine: I saw a big Palestinian flag flapping in the wind nearby. I went to check it out and it was flying from...the Buddhist booth? Say what?

Turns out the flag belonged to the ISM "people" next door. The Buddhists just had a taller post to attach the flag to, and allowed their neighbors to use it.

Yet another kaffiyeh-sporting fashion-victim showed up moments later.

But when it comes to crimes of fashion, no one can top the "Freedom Fighters" clothing retailers.

Their theme is "Latin American Communists." They've got shirts with Subcomandante Marcos (leader of the Chiapas rebels in Mexico)...

...and this lovely warning. I come in peace -- and if you don't accept my offer, the bullets start flying! (The quote actually comes from the last line of a famous speech by Yasser Arafat to the UN in 1974.)

Here's a young Subcomandante on a chic tote bag.

At a nearby booth, we have Abrahamo "Che" Lincoln!

Not to be confused with DJ Guevara!

Several people were wearing "Freedom Fighters" message shirts, including this woman who had an anti-capitalist quote from Schafik Handal...

...the Palestinian-Salvadoran leader of the Communist Party of El Salvador and the FMLN.

This young man (the teenage boyfriend of one of the kaffiyeh girls, actually) was wearing a shirt he had purchsed from the "Freedom Fighters" booth minutes earlier. He seemed as ill-informed as his girlfriend, and was probably only wearing it as a hipster fashion statement.

These anarchists drove all the way from the central California town of Modesto to display their wares at the festival. "Cook cops," eh? Rob banks?

A veritable cornucopia of contrarianism!

Several revolutionary Black Power groups were on hand as well (even though the crowd was at least 95% white). Here we have the Black Panthers...

...the radical Uhuru folks from Oakland...

..and at the "Born Brown" booth, one could purchase an "I nappy-headed hos" shirt.

This is the message printed on the back.

Of course it wouldn't be a proper San Francisco political event without the presence of Code Pink!

Many Pinkettes mingled in the crowd.

Courage to Resist -- the pro-desertion, pro-AWOL group -- had a strong presence as well, with representatives distributing literature throughout the festival.

Not in Our Name supplied the masses with the requisite anti-Bush paraphernalia.

And how could I forget hackeysack! Of course!

Two white-boy reggae toasters were entertaining the crowd nearby. I preferred them to the Indigo Girls, to be frank!

That's about the tall and short of it.

Remember the Peace Dove parade near the beginning of the report? Well, they had some spooky trees.

And even more menacing "doves."

And then there were your run-of-the-mill eccentrics.

And your prototypical Berkeley-style Birkenstock-wearing ladies.

Now, think of all the messages you've seen on this page, and they can be summed up by the festival's overarching motto: "SPEAK TRUTH."

I know exactly how this guy feels.

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