Peace Marchers Rally Across United States
By TARA BURGHART
NEW YORK (AP - 22 March) - Anti-war activists marched again Saturday in dozens of cities, marshaling well over 100,000 in Manhattan and sometimes trading insults with backers of the U.S.-led war on Iraq. War backers rallied too, often by the thousands, with American flags and chants of ``USA!''
In Chicago, some of about 800 troop supporters came within 20 feet of a small group of anti-war activists outside a federal building. As the protesters shouted ``killers, killers, killers,'' a military backer yelled back ``idiots, idiots, idiots.'' Later, about 500 anti-war protesters marched around the same building.
Carrying peace signs and wearing costumes, demonstrators in New York spanned 30 blocks as they marched down Broadway toward Washington Square Park. Unofficial police estimates put the crowd at more than 125,000; United for Peace and Justice, the march organizers, estimated the crowd at more than 250,000.
``I believe if you really want to show `shock and awe,' you should show love and justice,'' said marcher Bob Edgar, an officer at the National Council of Churches.
Carol Laverne wore a pair of angel's wings and carried a sign saying ``Thou shall not kill.'' Susan Sonz and her 9-year-old son, Ruben, came to the march from their home near the World Trade Center ground zero site. The boy carried a sign saying, ``Ground Zero kids against the war.''
``We don't want to see more innocent people die,'' Sonz said.
Some celebrities joined in, including actors Roy Scheider, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and singer Patti Smith.
``We support the troops, but we do not support the president,'' said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., a Korean War veteran.
About 2,000 police were assigned to the rally, including undercover officers with beeper-sized radiation detectors and other counterterrorism measures.
After the permit for the march expired at 4 p.m., several hundred protesters refused officers' orders to clear the area, and some scuffled with police. Hundreds of police in riot gear and officers on horseback pulled one protester after another out of the crowd and placed them in a police truck.
Police said about 90 people were arrested. Protesters said police used pepper spray, and police said 16 officers were getting medical treatment after being sprayed with an unknown substance.
Tens of thousands protested in San Francisco after two days of anti-war rallies in which about 2,200 were arrested.
San Francisco police on Friday vowed to be more aggressive in controlling the crowds. The latest demonstration was peaceful, although police arrested 10 people - mostly for failing to disperse - as the rally stretched into the evening.
``Families are coming out, kids are coming out. In deference to that, we want to keep this a positive experience,'' said organizer Mario Santos of International ANSWER. ``There's no point to civil disobedience. It's Saturday. Everything's closed.''
In Hollywood, war protesters marched down Sunset Boulevard, complaining that news coverage is slanted. One sign showed a photo of an Iraqi mother with a wounded child and said, ``Collateral damage has a face.''
Los Angeles police, who estimated the crowd at between 2,500 and 3,000 people, arrested 78 people, mostly for failing to disperse. Chief William Bratton, expecting larger protests Sunday during the Academy Awards, told KNBC-TV the demonstration was ``good practice.''
In Washington, several hundred protesters, chanting ``No blood for oil,'' strode through the streets and rallied in front of the White House. Their pink and orange signs read ``No war against Iraq'' and ``Money for unemployment, not war.''
Two protesters were arrested. One of them pushed an officer off his bicycle, police said.
In Chicopee, Mass., 53 of about 1,500 protesters were arrested when they blocked a road to Westover Air Reserve Base during an anti-war rally.
Sixteen protesters were arrested on trespassing charges when they refused to leave Iowa's National Guard headquarters, in Johnston. One of them, Carolyn Uhlenhake Walker, an elementary school teacher, declared, ``I'm a patriot, and I'm offended by people that say we don't love our country.''
In El Prado, N.M, anti-war activists lay down in front of the part-time home of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who wasn't there.
In Reno, Nev., about 200 pro-military demonstrators crashed a smaller anti-war protest, drowning out peace hymns with chants of ``USA'' and ``Support our troops.''
More than 5,000 backers of the American military demonstrated at a baseball stadium in Millington, Tenn., home to a military base. Ricky Hunt held a poster with an 8-by-10 photograph of a young Marine he knows in Iraq. He also slung a Marine Corps flag over his shoulder.
``We're really tired of all the protesters. I don't understand them. I think they ought to remember where they got their freedom,'' Hunt said.
An estimated 15,000 pro-military demonstrators crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, prayed, and sang patriotic songs in Auburn, Ind. Similar numbers massed in St. Paul, Minn.
In Lansing, Mich., war supporters rallied at the state Capitol with American flags. Patriotic music rang out, and the crowd of hundreds chanted ``USA.'' Dawn Connor held up a sign that said, ``Anti-war=Pro-Saddam.'' Similar rallies attracted thousands in Jefferson City, Mo.; Charleston, S.C.; Bear, Del.; and Raleigh, N.C.
In Louisville, Ky., about 400 young military wives, leather-clad bikers, veterans and others also massed and declared solidarity with U.S. soldiers.
Abroad, tens of thousands of angry protesters from London to Japan again marched against the war. Some denounced their governments for backing the United States.
Since the outbreak of war, peace demonstrations have spread to dozens of American cities large and small in one of the widest outpourings of anti-government protesting in many years. Anti-war activists have blocked traffic, sat in at federal buildings, prayed at somber candlelight vigils, and laid down on sidewalks to symbolize the war dead.
Mostly smaller counterdemonstrations have sprung up too, appealing for support of the invasion or U.S. troops.
Nearly all protests have been peaceful, though scuffling with police broke out on a few occasions. More than 3,000 arrests have been made, usually as police tried to clear streets and keep buildings open.