Major Protests Mark Iraq War Anniversary

  1. Major Protests Mark Iraq War Anniversary

    Associated Press Writer

    Burrows says President Bush forced the U-S into the war under false pretenses. (Audio)

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of people around the world rallied against the U.S. presence in Iraq on the first anniversary of the war Saturday, in protests that retained the anger, if not the size, of demonstrations held before the invasion began.

    Protesters filled more than a dozen police-lined blocks in Manhattan, calling on President Bush to bring home U.S. troops serving in Iraq. Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimated the crowd at about 30,000, but organizers said later that number had grown to more than 100,000.

    "It is time to bring our children home and declare this war was unnecessary," said the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a New York activist addressing a rally in Manhattan.

    The roughly 250 anti-war protests scheduled around the country by United for Peace and Justice ranged from solemn to brash.

    In Montpelier, Vt., hundreds of silent protesters placed a pair of shoes on the Statehouse steps for each of the more than 560 U.S. soldiers killed in the war. In Los Angeles, one of thousands of protesters held photographs of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney with the words, "forget Janet Jackson's - expose the real boobs."

    More than 300 people rallied in Stevens Point, Wis., including the 5-year-old son of Sgt. Mark McClure, a Wisconsin National Guard soldier who has been stationed in the Middle East for 11 months.

    Michael McClure made his own, slightly misspelled protest sign: "Let Dady Come Home."

    Around the world, hundreds of thousands raised their voices in rallies from Spain to Egypt to the Philippines.

    Organizers estimated up to 2 million people demonstrated in Rome, and 100,000 in London, but police in those cities gave estimates of 250,000 and 25,000, respectively.

    Anti-war activists jammed the streets of central Rome, many of them decked out in rainbow-colored peace flags and chanting "assassins." Protesters demanded that the Italian government, a strong supporter of the war, withdraw its 2,600 troops from Iraq.

    About 150,000 demonstrated in Barcelona, Spain. No crowd estimate was immediately available for Madrid, but the numbers paled in comparison to the millions that packed streets all over Spain after the Madrid train bombings that killed 202 people March 11.

    The rallies coincided with the anniversary of the first bombings in Baghdad last year. Although President Bush ordered the attacks on March 19, the time difference made it March 20 in Iraq.

    While turnout was high in some nations, most protests were far smaller than the enormous demonstrations held around the world shortly before the war began.

    A New York protest a year ago drew more than 125,000 by official estimates. Although that's similar to organizers' estimate Saturday, organizers last year estimated that crowd at more than 250,000.

    Last year's rally produced several clashes between demonstrators and police, but New York police reported just four arrests on disorderly conduct charges Saturday. There were scattered arrests in other U.S. cities as well.

    New York police in riot gear walked calmly past barricades marking off the demonstration area on Madison Avenue as speakers mounted a stage to address the crowd on a sunny afternoon. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stopped by the rally, but didn't speak to demonstrators or participate.

    In President Bush's hometown of Crawford, about 800 peace activists from across Texas marched, chanting, "One, two, three, four, kick the liar out the door." Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader spoke to the crowd and called for Bush's impeachment.

    The march kept John Taylor, an Air Force veteran who lives in Crawford, waiting at an intersection. He propped his cowboy hat above the steering wheel of his Ford pickup to block his view of the protesters, some holding up effigies of Bush.

    "If they'd leave, it would be nice," said Taylor, 28.

    Thousands of protesters marched through Chicago's downtown shopping district. The Rev. Jesse Jackson urged the crowd to express their opposition to the war by voting against Bush.

    "It's time to fight back," Jackson said. "Remember in November."

    In Cincinnati, Claire Mugavin wore a biohazard suit to a protest that drew several hundred people. She pretended to look for weapons of mass destruction beneath benches and garbage cans.

    "We figure they're not in Iraq," said the 24-year-old Cincinnati resident. "So we figured we'd come look for them in Fountain Square."

    In San Francisco, thousands of taiko drummers, cyclists, activists and other protesters chanted "End the occupation" and "Impeach Bush."

    Thousands of people also turned out in Denver and Seattle, and demonstrations drew several hundred people in Atlanta, Albuquerque, N.M., and Augusta, Maine.

    Many of the demonstrations were accompanied by smaller gatherings of Bush supporters. Iraqi-American Kaise Urfali, 46, was among 10 people gathered at the Atlanta rally to oppose the protesters.

    "These people have no clue, they have no idea about the meaning of terrorism and the meaning of freedom," said Urfali, who said his family has lived in exile from Iraq since 1958. "These protesters talk in the name of Iraq and none of them are from Iraq, none of them lived in the terror."

    Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and other European countries also saw protests, while demonstrations took place earlier in Japan, Australia and India. About 500 protesters clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines capital, Manila. No injuries were reported.

    Demonstrators in Cairo - vastly outnumbered by riot police - burned an American flag. Hundreds of people gathered in other Middle Eastern capitals to denounce the war.

    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   NurseHardee
    Sunday March 21, 8:59 AM
    Worldwide protests mark first anniversary of US-led invasion of Iraq

    Hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters around the world took to the streets to denounce the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq on the first anniversary of the war.

    But the number of demonstrators in many major cities was nowhere near the massive turnout seen at pre-war rallies.

    Still, thousands marched, from Los Angeles to Madrid, which is still reeling from the March 11 train bombings that claimed 202 lives.

    Protesters halted traffic in San Francisco.

    Crowd estimates ranged from around 20,000 to a claim by organisers that 50,000 people took part in the protest, also attend by Hollywood star Woody Harrelson.

    But the demonstration, while spirited and outspoken, appeared much smaller than those held here in the run-up to the war when more than 50,000 attended one of the protests.

    Around 2,500 placard-waving and chanting demonstrators joined a rowdy protest in Hollywood.

    In Chicago, 53-year-old Connie Cominsky said she had lost faith in President George W. Bush.

    "When they first went over there, I really believed Saddam was a bad guy, and they had weapons of mass destruction," she recalls, adding ruefully: "Shame on me for being so stupid, so naive, for believing my president."

    As many as 50,000 marchers in New York, the largest of the US demonstrations, demanded an end to the occupation of Iraq.

    Sue Niederer, from New Jersey, carried a sign with photos of her son, Seth, in military uniform and the words "Bush, You Killed My Son."

    "We have to get the ******* troops out of there. They should never have gone to Iraq in the first place," said Niederer, whose son was killed while trying to defuse a bomb in Iraq.

    In Canada, which opposed the war, thousands protested in Montreal.

    Large crowds opposing the occupation gathered across Spain and Italy, whose governments backed US President George W. Bush's call to war to oust Saddam Hussein despite massive public opposition.

    In Spain, where 11.6 million converged in several cities the day after the March 11 attacks, hundreds of thousands of people joined anti-war marches.

    "Solidarity with the victims of Madrid, Iraq and Palestine," read one banner.

    Some 200,000 people marched in the northeastern port city of Barcelona, and while a similar demonstration in Madrid was barely half that size it was no less vociferous.

    Italian anti-war organizers were the most successful, claiming up to a million people had crammed into the streets of Rome, but police put the figure at about 250,000.

    A sea of people of all ages, waving red balloons and rainbow flags with the message "Peace," stretched between Rome's Republic Square to the ancient Coliseum.

    Elsewhere in the world organizers attracted more modest turnouts.

    In central London, 25,000 anti-war activists, according to police, marched from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, carrying banners reading "No more lies," and shouting "Anti-Bush," "Anti Blair," and "Anti-war everywhere," a reference to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    Police arrested two Greenpeace activists who Saturday scaled London's landmark Big Ben clock tower and unfurled a banner proclaiming "Time for the Truth."

    Hundreds of thousands had turned out in London before the war.

    In the Irish capital Dublin police said about 2,000 protesters marched behind a large black banner calling for "the end to the occupation of Iraq and Palestine."

    "Bertie Bertie Bush, blood blood on your hands," shouted the demonstrators, aiming their wrath at Bush and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

    Tens of thousands turned out in cities across France and Germany, with a group of about 2,500 gathering outside the central police headquarters in Paris and 500 in Berlin, where 70,000 had turned out before the war.

    Thousands more protested across Europe, from Portugal to Poland, whose government deployed 2,500 troops to Iraq.

    In Warsaw, about 500 peace activists protested in front of the US embassy. Marchers waved banners proclaiming "No to war," "Pull troops out of Iraq," and "No blood for oil."

    Thousands of protestors also took to the streets across Turkey to denounce the occupation and a planned visit by US President George W. Bush to the country for a NATO summit in June.

    Around 100 Syrians marched in central Damascus to denounce the conflict and the continued US-led occupation of Iraq.

    Carrying Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian flags, they chanted nationalist and anti-US slogans and burned US and Israeli flags.

    "Down With the United States," and "No to Capitalist Globalisation," they chanted.

    About 2,000 protestors in Egypt carried banners mocking the failure of the US-led coalition to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD), whose alleged existence Washington and London used to justify the war.

    "No WMD, but 20,000 Iraqi civilians killed ... this is Bush's democracy," read a banner in English.

    In Honduras, hundreds converged on the US embassy to demand the return of 370 Honduran troops from Iraq.

    President Ricardo Maduro sent Honduran troops to Iraq where they are under Spanish command. The troops are scheduled to return to Central America in July.

    Anti-riot police oversaw the protest as demonstrators called Bush a "fascist" and shouted: "You're the terrorists."
  4. by   sbic56
    George must be saying "Those darn "focus groups" are back!"
  5. by   NurseHardee
    There are great pictures of the demonstrations from all around the globe (2,000,000 marched) at..