Anti-war protesters with Code Pink demonstrate in Downtown Oakland on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Contributed photo)

About 1,000 people packed four corners of an Oakland intersection recently to demand no war with Iran, said a member of the group CodePink, which says it promotes peace and human rights.

Many people gathered early ahead of the 5 p.m. scheduled start of the Jan. 9 rally at Grand and Lake Park avenues, outside the Grand Lake Theatre, CodePink member Susan Harman said.

“It’s the biggest (crowd) I’ve ever seen on that corner,” she said, adding that she has been to many protests there.

Harman, a 78-year-old Oakland resident, expressed personal concern about the possible destruction of world heritage artifacts. In college, her advisor was an expert in cuneiform tablets, pre-Biblical tablets that fit in the palm of the hand.

Harman said many people driving by the rally honked in support of the demonstrators, and former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was there.

Oakland’s demonstration was just one of many scheduled last Thursday around the Bay Area, all of which were prompted initially by President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, who the president said was a terrorist.

The president’s decision was meant to deter rather than start a war, according to White House officials on Twitter.

But Iran on Jan. 7 fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two American military bases in Iraq, prompting concern that a war might start. No injuries or deaths were reported in the attack by Iran.

In addition to protests, the military action prompted the House of Representatives to vote to prevent the president from going to war with Iran.

“Today’s bipartisan 224-194 vote sends a strong message to President Trump that we will not tolerate dangerous foreign policy whims that cannot be justified as ‘imminent,'” Rep. Jackie Speier, D- San Francisco/San Mateo, said in a statement.

Additional protests were planned for San Francisco, Walnut Creek and Alameda, as well as in the North Bay and South Bay.

About 25 people affiliated with various groups including the Raging Grannies, which says it promotes peace, justice and equality, rallied at Willow Road and state Highway 84 in Menlo Park.

The group held signs that said such things as “Jobs not War” and also sang peace songs.

“We’re fearful,” Raging Granny Ruth Robertson said.

She said during the protest that it looks as if both the U.S. and Iran are backing away from war, which makes her and others hopeful. But things can change in an instant, she said.

Robertson said she and others are “hopeful but still concerned.”

The demonstration, which was outside a Facebook office, was meant in part to give young people on “Google” buses something to think about.

In San Francisco that evening, about 500 people called on lawmakers to avoid a war with Iran. The rally was organized by public policy advocates MoveOn and consisted of members of other groups such as CodePink and Extinction Rebellion, global environmental advocates.

In a speech she gave, Cynthia Papermaster, coordinator of the Golden Gate chapter of CodePink, urged people who want peace not to vote for political candidates in favor of war.

She thinks the president is putting the U.S. on the brink of nuclear war. Papermaster expressed concern for the preservation of cultural sites, which she said President Trump has threatened to bomb.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Pagransen. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Pagransen, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.