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Disquiet in San Jose

South Bay Mobilization group acts out against war

By Allie Gottlieb

JUST A YEAR after local antiwar crusader Vida co-founded the South Bay Mobilization to spur local peaceniks to action, the transplanted Iranian gauges the state of dissent in San Jose as strong. "I don't know if it's a new age of activism," says Vida, who, in a moment of stage fright asked that only her first name be used. Vida explains that South Bay Mobilization successfully rallies the activism out of regular people merely by tapping into a sentiment that's already there, especially during wartime under a tight-lipped and arguably fork-tongued government.

"It's not just activists or a bunch of radicals," she says as she runs through a list of common complaints about the country from ordinary people provoked to act. "When the situation is getting worse; when there are tax breaks for the rich; when there are cuts in social security and health care benefits." Vida pauses, then continues, "There was a big demonstration when Bush was here, and people came because they are sick and tired of these lies."

She points to a complicated intersection of the Bush administration's false pretenses for waging a preemptive war; corporations profiting from oil while gas prices climb; voter machines leaving no satisfactory paper trail; immigrants getting detained and deported. "People never have been lied to that much before," she concludes, referring specifically to Americans.

Vida's group, which is throwing a peace rally in San Jose on March 20, takes credit for having sponsored San Jose's best-attended antiwar protest in recent history. That one took place on Feb. 15, 2003, before the president waged war in Iraq, and Vida boasts that 5,000 people showed up. "We just grew from there," Vida reflects. "Because so many people came. So many people wanted to do something."

The South Bay Mobilization group describes itself basically as a coalition aimed at uniting folks with a liberal fire in the belly. Its causes include championing such progressive causes as civil rights and environmental protections. Vida, a Santa Clara resident, explains that South Bay Mobilization means to operate as an umbrella organization for any activist group with a like-minded message in Santa Clara County. She gives as an example local college students organizing a protest to take place on Monday, March 16, in Sacramento to decry budget cuts. "Any group can be part of this coalition," she says. "Anybody can come under this umbrella. This is our main goal: bring together of the groups."

The South Bay Mobilization peace march takes place March 20 at 12:30pm, Roosevelt Park, Santa Clara and North 19th streets, San Jose. For more info, call 408.998.8504.

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From the March 10-17, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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