Protesters demonstrate against world leaders, Israel-Hamas war as APEC comes to San Francisco

Demonstrators prepare to march in opposition to the APEC Summit Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023 in San Francisco. Hundreds of business executives, foreign press and world leaders will descend on San Francisco for the highly anticipated global trade summit. (AP Photo/ Noah Berger)

SAN FRANCISCO — Activists protesting corporate profits, environmental abuses, poor working conditions and the Israel-Hamas war marched in downtown San Francisco on Sunday, united in their opposition to a global trade summit that will draw President Joe Biden and leaders from nearly two dozen countries.

Protests are expected throughout this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ conference, which could draw more than 20,000 attendees, including hundreds of international journalists. The No to APEC coalition, made up of more than 100 grassroots groups, says trade deals struck at summits such as APEC exploit workers and their families.


It’s unlikely world leaders will even glimpse the protests given the strict security zones accessible only to attendees at the Moscone Center conference hall and other summit sites. But Suzanne Ali, an organizer for the Palestinian Youth Movement, says the U.S. government needs to be held to account for supplying weapons to Israel in its war against Hamas.

“Even if they cannot see us, as we’re mobilizing and marching together, they will know that we’re out there,” she said.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered Sunday to hear speeches from activists supporting various causes, followed by a march through downtown. Among the voices were environmentalists chanting “Rise up” and carrying banners that read “People and planet over profit and plunder!”

They’re opposed to the framing of “supposed ‘clean’ and ‘green’ economies that are really propping up corporate profits,” said Nik Evasco, an organizer with the climate block of the No to APEC coalition.

“Any time there are so-called free trade deals, what we’ve seen historically is that it’s really about opening up pristine lands that go toward making money for corporations,” Evasco said.

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