- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

Anti-war organizers said they expect tens of thousands of people to participate today in a march on the White House to protest an imminent U.S. war against Iraq.

Metropolitan Police said yesterday the activist group International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) has a permit for 30,000 demonstrators to rally and march.

"We've worked with this group before, and we don't expect there to be any difficulties," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department.

Motorists should expect intermittent closures between 1:30 and 6 p.m. on streets around the White House.

The anti-war protesters will assemble at 11 a.m. at Constitution Gardens, adjacent the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, at 21st Street and Constitution Avenue NW, said International ANSWER spokesman Tony Murphy.

"We're going to march to the White House to show in numbers that President George W. Bush does not speak for the vast majority of people in this country with his plans to go to war with Iraq," Mr. Murphy said.

Clashes are not anticipated between anti-war protesters and supporters of Free Republic, a national conservative group, holding a counterrally today on the grounds of the Washington Monument between 14th and 15th streets NW on the Mall.

However, statements published yesterday on a Web site held by Free Republic make clear the ideological gap between the two sets of demonstrators.

The "real message" of the anti-war rally "is that America is an evil nation and should not defend itself against any threats," states the Free Republic Web site (www.freerepublic.com). "They dream of re-living the glory days of the Sixties, when spitting on soldiers and burning the flag were 'cool.'

"As the United States prepares to take the next step in the war on terrorism, we will be gathering to show support for our troops, America and to serve as a patriotic counterpoint to the anti-American leftists," the Web site states.

Free Republic's rally, which starts at 11 a.m., will feature speakers, music and a gathering of supporters carrying American flags.

Mr. Murphy said the anti-war rally will be much bigger and more visible because there are far more people in America today who do not want to go to war with Iraq.

"We're going to have tens of thousands of people marching, and I think [Free Republic] is going to have 10," he said, adding that similar anti-war rallies would be held today in cities across the United States and around the world.

"Hundreds of thousands will be marching against the war policies of President Bush," he said. "We contend that the Bush administration is lying when it claims that Iraq presents a threat to the world or this country. Iraq has not attacked or threatened the United States."

Mr. Murphy said that when Congress last week "voted for war over the wishes of their own constituents, it became very clear that the initiatives of stopping this war now rest in the hands of the anti-war movement."

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