- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

NEW YORK Pro-war demonstrators are beginning to raise their voices in this city of liberal Democrats, where anti-war sentiment has galvanized tens of thousands to show their opposition to the war in Iraq.
Although the demonstrations of support, estimated at several hundred, are nowhere near the size of anti-war crowds showing up in Union Square and Times Square, pro-war organizers said they expect their numbers to increase as the war continues.
Vietnam veteran Al Petrocelli, whose son was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, was one of the war supporters to participate in a recent rally in Staten Island organized Rep. Vito J. Fossella, a Republican. He said he was there to represent both of them.
"My son, who I'm sure is in heaven, is rooting them on," he said.
Many residents in this borough have children serving in the Middle East. Nora Ryan's son is a Marine.
She said the last time she heard from her son was March 17. "Of course we're very worried, but we support our troops," she said.
At the USS Intrepid museum anchored on Manhattan's West Side, war veterans wrapped the flight deck with yellow ribbon to show their sympathy for the military cause. Meanwhile, anti-war protestors standing beneath the gun turrets dropped a banner that read, "shame."
A poll conducted by NY1, a local television station, indicated that 51 percent of New Yorkers oppose the war, 35 percent support it and 13 percent have no opinion. The survey also showed large opposition among black voters.
New Yorkers have been generally stoic in what is believed to be the largest and most far-reaching security operation ever to be established in the city. "Operation Atlas" has deployed thousands of police all over the city to stand guard and check identities at bridges, tunnels, well-known landmarks, waterways and in the financial district.
At 49th Street and Fifth Avenue, an intersection frequented by tourists, police set up hazardous-material decontamination units in front of Saks Fifth Avenue and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
"We are not a people who harbor hatred, even of our enemies," said Cardinal Edward Egan in a sermon at the cathedral, reflecting the Catholic hierarchy's anti-war position. Of the armed forces, he said, "We beg you Lord; we beg you to keep them safe."
The anti-terrorism plan is expected to cost the city $5 million a week. Such an expense could not come at a worse time for New York, which faces a $3.8 billion budget gap. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was in Washington last week seeking federal aid for the city.
"This is very expensive," he said. "But make no mistake about it. We will not skimp on protecting this city."
Mr. Bloomberg has become much more visible since the war started, making himself available for photo opportunities even on weekends, when he had often been absent from the city. At every stop, he has tried to reassure people that the city is ready for anything, so they should go about their business.
To one Midtown group he said: "Am I safe standing here to talk to you? Yes. Am I safe walking the streets and taking the subways? Yes. Are there a handful of bad people in the world, and is there some risk? There's always some of that."
After voting 32-17 against the prospect of war last week, the Democrat-dominated City Council was moving to consider a resolution that would support the troops.
"Everyone understands that we may have differences over is this the right moment to pursue the war, but we absolutely support the troops," said the bill's sponsor, James Sanders, a Queens Democrat who voted for the anti-war measure.
Mr. Sanders said the resolution has the support of half the council.
However, Charles Barron, a sponsor of the anti-war resolution, said he's not in favor of a new bill.
"I support them [the troops] by telling them to come on home, stop the bombing. That's the greatest support we can give to the troops," he said.

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