- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) — Hundreds of anti-war protestors gathered outside the Capitol for President George W. Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday, calling it "the sorry State of the Union."

The protestors gave speeches and showed film of the president calling for action against Iraq.

The event was organized by the Shirts Off Coalition and supported by the DC Statehood Green Party, Left Turn, Anti-Capitalist Convergence and Organized Coup.

Following the president's speech, protesters began marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. They were kept from advancing to 14th Street by Washington police and turn back to the Capitol.

Penny Howard of Baltimore said police assaulted her friend while she was marching.

"The police were trying to steer people off the sidewalk and yelled, 'Get off the street.' My friend was then thrown on the ground," she said.

The police reported no arrests and denied there had been any incidents of violence.

The event, a mixture of music, movies and speakers, was organized in five weeks, and all the performers volunteered their time. Mr. Lif, a rapper from Boston, Thievery Corporation, 1905, and Funk DC were among the groups performing.

Zoe Mitchell, an organizer of the rally and Washington resident, said: "The country is exploding. The lack of quality education is amazing. We want (Bush) to focus on the economy and help citizens in their daily lives."

Organizers expected 1,000 people to attend, with others coming and going.

"This is not an event that anyone should worry about. We are a non-violent group, putting on a rally and a concert in opposition to Bush," she said.

"I think it's an ingenious way to protest instead of being angry," said Washington resident Elizabeth Paynter.

(Christine Suh contributed to this story.)

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