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StateSide:News
PROTEST
Fourth Anniversary Inspires Weekend Protests
Anti-War and Counter-Demonstrators Make Their Voices Heard
03/19/2007 09:19 AM ET
Marking the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War, thousands of anti-war protestors marched from the northwest corner of the National Mall to a rally at the north parking lot of the Pentagon on Saturday. The ANSWER Coalition organized the “March on the Pentagon” anti-war event to hark back to the 1967 pinnacle demonstration of the Vietnam era.

At noon on a very soggy patch of the Mall between 23rd St. and Henry Bacon Drive, speeches and music rallied the crowd before protestors began the slow march to the Pentagon around 12:30. The march route near the National Mall was lined by a significant number of “Gathering of Eagles” counter-protestors.

The “Gathering of Eagles”, many veterans themselves, came with the stated intention to protect the Vietnam Memorial from desecration--an ultimately symbolic intent, since Park Police gated off the site, making it accessible only through security checks.

Perhaps the most dramatic scene came from the beginning of the march route around the Lincoln Memorial Circle. There U.S. Park Police, “Gathering of Eagles” ‘marshalls’ in bright orange shirts, construction cones, and police barricades, separated anti-war protestors in the outer circle, from counter-protestors in the inner circle.

Gruff, leather-clad veterans waved flags and yelled “Traitors!,” “Freedom is my friend in the name of blood!,” “Traitors to your country!,” and chanting “You don’t know shit!,” while holding signs reading, “Stand behind your President,” “Peace Thru Strength,” “Here or There,” “Win War or Loose to Jihad,” among others.

Amidst a forest of signs, marchers made their way to the Pentagon chanting “This-is-what-democracy-looks-like,” “Exxon-Mobile-BP-Shell, take-your-war-and-go-to-hell”, before beginning to gather in the Pentagon parking lot. Estimates varied on the number of demonstrators, but a broad count would probably put it in the low tens of thousands.

Speakers at the rally included “peace-mom” Cindy Sheehan, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the Muslim and Arab-American leaders, who, with the Pentagon behind them, spoke out against the Iraq War, as well as larger and related issues such as government secrecy and corruption, attacking Iran, and domestic problems such as Katrina.

Around 3:00 pm, a small number of protestors attempted to cross the bridge from the parking lot to the grounds surrounding the Pentagon, but were stopped by police. Five were arrested in the incident.

Many other protests across the US and around the world marked the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war.

On Monday morning, New York police arrested dozens of protestors outside Wall Street, after about 100 had gathered for an anti-war protest.

Friday night, 225 members of an anti-war Christian group were arrested while praying for peace in Lafayette Park, outside the White House.

Estimates of Saturday's protest in Madrid range from 100-300,000, with smaller demonstrations occurring across the country.

Portland saw an estimated 10,000+ people marching a 24-block route on Saturday. The Oregonian reported that local police arrested about a dozen members of a "fringe group" that refused to depart after the march had finished.

A group of roughly a thousand people, including United for Peace and Justice and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition members marched through Manhattan on Sunday to the offices of Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer.

ABC reported that thousands of anti-war marchers in San Francisco shut down Market Street on Sunday. Police reported no arrests.

Hundreds of anti-war protesters gathered in Fayetteville, NC on Saturday and were met by about sixty anti-war protesters who tried to drown them out.

More than one thousand rallied at Hartford's Old State House, about three hundred and fifty marched in Lincoln, Nebraska, and about one hundred marched through downtown St. Petersberg Saturday night.

On Sunday three thousand marched in downtown Seattle, as well as an estimated four thousand in Minneapolis.

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