demonstrators rally around the world
put turnout in Washington at 200,000
to Alternative Reader Index
(CNN) -- Americans
across the nation publicly protested a possible war in Iraq on Saturday.
In Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, California, at the two largest peace
rallies, the crowds were urged on by international peace activists, religious
leaders, members of Congress, actors and musicians.
At least tens of thousands of people rallied on the Mall in Washington, and a
similar-size group crowded downtown San Francisco.
The group in Washington followed the rally with a march through the streets of
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was among the speakers who addressed the crowd, huddled
against freezing temperatures.
"Let's choose minds over missiles and negotiation over
confrontation," he said. "We are here because we choose
coexistence over coannihilation, because we choose brains not bombs, and we use
brains -- not brute force -- to stop conflict, to stop terrorism and not to
"It does not stand to reason," he said to cheers, "to
have an unfinished confrontation with al Qaeda, ignore the Middle East, and
fast-forward to Iraq. We are not finding out about security, we are finding out
about hegemony and oil and defense contracts. We deserve better."
The rally is one of dozens organized in 25 countries by the group Act Now to
Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER). The group said it had organized transportation
from more than 200 cities in 45 states for the rallies in Washington and San
Francisco. Organizers estimated the crowd at about 200,000. Washington park
police would not offer an estimate. (Read more)
British Parliament member Jeremy Corbyn traveled to Washington for the rally.
"In Britain there is enormous opposition to this war," he
said. "This is a war with no support, no public recognition for it, and
I think the leaders, particularly President Bush and Prime Minister [Tony]
Blair, are going to have to recognize they're on their own on this one."
Saturday afternoon, the crowd began marching toward the Washington Navy Yard, a
military installation in Southeast Washington. A symbolic "people's
inspection team" planned to demand to inspect the area for weapons of
mass destruction, mocking U.N. inspections in Iraq.
Some marchers wore costumes, and many carried signs with slogans such as "No
blood for oil," "Act now, stop war and racism," and
"What would Jesus do?"
Eilene Joiner, who traveled from Virginia, said "I came because I
believe the pre-emptive war is wrong, and I felt that I just needed to show my
Her companion, Terry Lewis, said he came despite having no assurance the rally
would have much effect.
"As Americans," he said, "we have to let our
president know if we disagree with his plans to go to war."
In San Francisco, people flocked to a waterfront rally at 11 a.m. (2 p.m. EST)
followed by a march down Market Street in the heart of the city to the Civic
Center. Aerial video showed people gathered shoulder-to-shoulder along several
blocks of one street. Police predicted street protests could continue until 7
p.m. (10 p.m. EST).
This week, the FBI sent a bulletin to 18,000 federal, state and local law
enforcement departments warning that activists could try to block or occupy
There were no reports of such incidents, or of any violence or confrontations.
Tokyo, Japan, marchers carried banners in English and Japanese expressing
opposition to a possible war. Some protesters wore costumes and masks bearing
In Rawalpindi, Pakistan, people -- many of them youths -- joined hands along a
street and held signs opposing war.
"Iraq isn't your ranch," proclaimed one placard held by a
protester in a small group that braved snow and cold in Moscow. Some protesters
waved Palestinian flags.
Palestinian flags were also visible at a rally in Cairo, Egypt, where scores of
people gathered in protest of U.S. policies. "Iraq and Palestine one
issue" read one banner.
ANSWER is planning a week of anti-war demonstrations beginning February 13. The
group is calling for actions supporting protests in Europe on February 15, and
for protests -- including walk-outs by U.S. college and high school students --
February 21 to coincide with the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X.
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