(You should be able to click on the photos to see larger versions. See additional photos here.)
Several SPL supporters and I attended San Francisco's annual Walk for Life West Coast last Saturday. The WFLWC includes an hour long rally at the Civic Center before marching down Market St. through the center of San Francisco's financial district. We arrived at the Civic Center about half an hour before the rally was to begin, so I had time to explore the huge crowd.
|See here for a better shot.|
I'm also continually struck by the strong Hispanic presence; I expect this is due to the region of the country (California has a much higher Hispanic population than the national average) and due to the heavily Catholic presence at the Walk (Catholics are disproportionately Hispanic).
This year's event not only featured the archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, but also Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio, who is the equivalent of the Vatican's ambassador to the United States.As Secular ProLife has previously mentioned, some abortion proponents have tried to purposely paint the pro-life movement as exclusively Catholic and based on religious convictions. However, in this case the Chronicle's focus on the heavily Catholic aspects of the Walk confirmed my own observations.
During the rally SPL supporters prepared our own banner across the street from the main square.
While setting our banner up, a man from the rally crossed the street to tell us that we are very welcome to join the rally, regardless of belief system. It was incredibly sweet. We told him we fully intended to join as soon as we had our banner put together, and he shook our hands and returned to the main square.
Meanwhile, as the speeches continued a small group of pro-choice counter protesters gathered near the rear of the crowd and began shouting chants and slogans such as "Get your Bible off my body!"
I'm not even sure what that last one means. In any case, as you can see some of the counter protesters were clearly responding to the religious aspects of the movement. Most of the pro-life crowd near the counter protesters ignored them, but a few people stood near the counter protesters and began praying the rosary. Some just silently stood near the counter protesters and held up their signs.
Soon the actual walking part of the Walk began. SPL supporters cut around the outside of the square to get near the beginning of the column, and I'm glad we did. As ABC reported, "the crowd was so large that it took the better part of an hour for it to clear the plaza."
|I thought Life Matters Journal would be happy to see this!|
|Interestingly placed Obama quote.|
Meanwhile, I was pretty pleased with the visibility of our SPL banner.
Throughout the Walk we had many people run ahead to read our banner, laugh, and take photos. At one point a man with a video camera asked me to explain what SPL is all about, although I don't know if that will get posted anywhere. The Walk was pretty enjoyable with our enthusiastic supporters:
This is my 6th Walk for Life West Coast. The first time I attended was only the 2nd year they had the WFLWC. The organizers of the Walk explained they wanted to demonstrate that even in one of the most left-wing areas of the country there is a strong pro-life presence. It's a brilliant idea. I know people from around the country that travel to Washington DC for the March for Life, but for many pro-lifers such a long distance isn't feasible. Now we are growing a west coast counterpart that has increased in attendance every year--in 2005 they estimated 7,000 attendees, and this year they estimated over 50,000! I'm grateful to the thousands upon thousands of pro-lifers who converge to strengthen our voice, and I'm grateful for the chance to stand among our religious counterparts and represent the secular viewpoint.