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Thousands in San Francisco march to demand cease-fire in Gaza

A drone image shows the ofrenda, or offering, in remembrance of the lives lost in the Middle East during a protest calling for a cease-fire in Gaza in Downtown San Francisco on Saturday. | Source: Courtesy Denis Perez

Thousands of protesters marched through Downtown San Francisco on Saturday, calling for a cease-fire in Gaza due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

The protest—organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center and various other community organizations—gathered at the steps of San Francisco City Hall demanding an end to the violence that has claimed an estimated 9,000 Palestinian lives since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed 1,400 Israelis.

Protestors carry a banner in front of the San Francisco Federal Building on Saturday. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

According to organizers, the rally and march drew enough people to span a dozen blocks.

Saturday's march comes just a day after a group of protestors blocked a U.S. military supply ship leaving the Port of Oakland for Tacoma, Washington, for approximately nine hours, according to organizers.

The protest started at San Francisco's Civic Center and headed down Market Street onto Sixth Street before looping back to the starting point on Mission Street while briefly stopping at the San Francisco Federal Building.

A protestor stands atop an electrical box in San Francisco during a march calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

Wassim Hage, an organizer with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, said that the Bay Area's history as a haven for social justice has sparked solidarity with other marginalized communities in the region.

"The people of the Bay Area have always been fighters for racial and social justice," Hage said. "We want the people of the Bay Area to be aware of the crimes that happen in our homelands and how they impact our people here."

As part of the protest, organizers honored those who died in the conflict, constructing an ofrenda, or offering, similar to those made for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a few days earlier.

Protestors carry banners in front of San Francisco's Federal Building. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

Seth Morrison, organizer with Jewish Voice for Peace, said the continual call for peace by protestors taking the streets is essential to letting lawmakers know how their constituents feel.

"We are going to come out here every week until there is a cease-fire," he said. "I really think that our elected officials are out of touch with the population."

For Suzanne Ali, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement's Bay Area chapter, the inspiration for Saturday's protest has come from the increased youth participation over the course of the past month.

A protestor sets an ofrenda, or offering, down during a rally in front of San Francisco City Hall. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

"In the Bay Area the past few weeks, we had 25,000 last week and prior to that 10,000 and before that 5,000," she said. "We're seeing it escalate, the amount of people that are coming out to participate and to demand from the government a cease-fire now."

Last weekend, thousands of protestors marched onto Highway 101, stopping traffic on the Central Freeway.

Ali said organizers plan an international call to action on Thursday.