Denouncing a conflict entering its fifth year, protestors across
the United States raised their voices against US policy in Iraq and
marched by the thousands to the Pentagon in the footsteps of an
epic demonstration four decades ago against another divisive
Counterprotests were staged, too, on a day of dueling signs and
sentiments such as "Illegal Combat" and "Peace Through Strength,"
and songs like The Battle Hymn of the Republic and War (What's It
Thousands crossed the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial to
rally loudly but peacefully near the Pentagon. "We're here in the
shadow of the war machine," said anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan,
the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. "It's like being in the
shadow of the Death Star. They take their death and destruction and
they export it around the world. We need to shut it down."
Smaller protests were held on Saturday in other US cities,
stretching to tomorrow's four-year anniversary of the Iraq
invasion. In Los Angeles, Vietnam veteran Ed Ellis, 59, hoped the
demonstrations would be the "tipping point" against a war that has
killed more than 3,200 US troops and engulfed Iraq in a deadly
cycle of violence.
"It's all moving in our direction, it's happening," he predicted
at the Hollywood rally. "The administration, their
get-out-of-jail-free card, they don't get one anymore."
Other protests - and counter-demonstrations were held in San
Francisco, San Diego, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Hartford,
Connecticut, where more than 1,000 rallied at the Old State
"Bring my Dad home now," read a flourescent pink sign held up by
11-year-old Griffin Allen, of Fayetteville, who attended the
protest by hundreds of people near the Fort Bragg US Army base with
"It's been tough," she said. "We get to talk once a week. ... I
try to make life here sound good because I don't want him to worry
Meanwhile, tens of thousands marched in Madrid as Spaniards
called not only for the US to get out of Iraq but to close the
prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. More than
3,000 people protested peacefully in Istanbul, Turkey, and about
1,000 in Athens, Greece.
In Japan, hundreds of protesters held a rally at a Tokyo park to
protest the war, then marched through the center of the city.
Speakers at the Pentagon rally criticized the Bush
administration at every turn but blamed congressional Democrats,
too, for refusing to cut off money for the war.
"This is a bipartisan war," New York City labor activist Michael
Letwin told the crowd. "The Democratic party cannot be trusted to
Five people were arrested after the demonstration when they
walked onto a bridge that had been closed off to accommodate the
protest and then refused orders to leave so police could reopen it
to traffic, Pentagon police spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said. They
were cited and released, she said.
President George W. Bush was at the presidential retreat in Camp
David, Maryland, for the weekend. Spokesman Blair Jones said of the
protests: "Our Constitution guarantees the right to peacefully
express one's views. The men and women in our military are fighting
to bring the people of Iraq the same rights and freedoms."
People traveled from afar in stormy weather to join the march.
Protestors walked in a blustery, cold wind across the Potomac River
with motorcycles clearing their way and police boats and
Police no longer give official estimates but said privately that
perhaps 10,000 to 20,000 anti-war demonstrators marched, with a
smaller but still sizable number of counterprotesters also out in
An hour into the three-hour Pentagon rally, with the temperature
near freezing, protesters had peeled away to a point where fewer
than 1,000 were left.
(China Daily via agencies March 19, 2007)