Tens of thousands of protesters staged the first anti-war protest in this
US capital since January yesterday, demanding an end to the Iraq war.
Holding black and yellow signs reading "End the War," protesters started to
gather in the morning near the White House. The protest formally began at noon
at Lafayette Park, on the north side of the White House, with speeches from at
least two dozen speakers ranging from former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
and Ralph Nader to Washington Wizards player Etan Thomas.
Around 3:00 p.m., protesters began to march to the Capitol, where they staged
a "die-in" with a mock 21-gun salute.
Police said dozens of protesters had been arrested without incident after
they climbed over a waist-high metal fence erected at the base of the Capitol.
Cheered on by the crowd, more demonstrators were leaping over the fence every
few minutes in the late afternoon and were being taken into custody.
Like the last major anti-war march in January, when tens of thousands marched
to the National Mall, Saturday's event came at a tense time in the fractious
debate over the U.S. mission in Iraq.
It came after this week's congressional testimony by Army Gen. David H.
Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. President George W. Bush's
announcement of a partial pullback of some 30,000 troops from Iraq by next
summer. But Democratic leaders immediately criticized his plan for not providing
either a plan to successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue
Saturday's event was organized by the ANSWER Coalition, which stands for Act
Now to Stop War and End Racism. The organizer estimated that 100,000 people
attended the protest.
It will be followed by a week of "civil disobedience" in Washington intended
to push the anti-war movement into a more confrontational phase, according to
Throughout the day, Bush was at Camp David, Maryland, and not at home to hear