- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2003

Anti-war activists rallied Saturday on the fourth day of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, saying they wanted the Bush administration to hear them, while demonstrations supporting the military were planned nationwide.

In New York City, more than 70 protesters were arrested and 14 police officers injured during an anti-war demonstration that brought about 200,000 people to Manhattan.

"It's an incredible outpouring of people, speaking in one voice to have no war in Iraq, Judith LeBoanc, spokeswoman for United for Peace NYC, told United Press International.

"There were teachers, transit workers, students and people wheeling baby carriages who are fearful of our future and we want (President) Bush to know they are opposed to war in Iraq."

The demonstration, which was organized by the "United for Peace and Justice" organization, included several celebrities, among them Roy Scheider, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. The marchers were joined by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who told reporters: "We support the troops, but we do not support the president."

While the rally began as a peaceful one, violence broke out near Washington Square Park as police attempted to disperse the crowd at the scheduled 4 p.m. EST end of the rally.

The New York Police Department said 74 demonstrators were arrested, and were charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

"Fourteen police officers were sprayed with some chemical and had to be hospitalized," a police spokesman said, "initially we thought it was mace, but now they're doing a chemical analysis to determine what it was."

Riot officers and mounted police tried to get control of the crowd, announcing via loudspeaker that those who remained in the area could face arrest. As police stepped in to disperse the crowd, a group of protesters started to chant: "Go fight crime."

For a third day in San Francisco, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets.

After five hours of anti-war rallies and marches in downtown San Francisco police moved in and made a number of arrests.

KCBS Radio reported that police in riot gear told the crowd to move out of the street and on to the sidewalks. Police warned the demonstrators they would be subject to arrest if they didn't comply.

After the warning, police did a sweep and arrested people who did not comply. Police said nearly 2,000 people have been arrested over the week.

On Saturday, Mayor Willie Brown issued a statement regarding the protests.

"I am supportive of the peaceful anti-war demonstrators who gathered today in San Francisco Civic Center," the mayor said. "But I continue to have grave concerns about the waves of violence that continue to break out among some demonstrators, an I urge the anti-war movement to strongly condemn them.

Californians also gathered to show their support for military action. More than 2,000 people rallied at the state capitol in Sacramento, waving flags and chanting "USA! USA!"

Jeff Bale, a teacher in Washington, D.C., and a member of the International Socialist Organization, said most people in the United States oppose the war but not everyone had the confidence to join the protests — although a CBS News-New York Times poll showed 76 percent of Americans supporting the war.

Bale also criticized the administration's "shock and awe" policy.

"The strikes have raised the stakes pretty significantly," said Bale. "Their goal is to obliterate the whole of Iraq." Bale warned that Iraq would not be the last place that the U.S. military would invade in what he said was its so-called war on terrorism.

Bale joined several hundred other peace activists Saturday along H Street next to Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. The demonstrators gathered under the watchful eye of the U.S. Park Police, Washington police and U.S. Secret Service officers.

The protesters marched through downtown Washington carrying signs that read: "Indict Bush for crimes against peace," "Money for jobs not war," and "Bring the troops home now: No war and occupation."

Park Police spokesman Sgt. Scott Fear said as of 6 p.m., one person had been arrested — for climbing a statue in Lafayette Square.

Washington Metropolitan Police said one woman was arrested for assault on a police officer for shoving an officer off his bicycle.

The protesters ranged from young to elderly.

"I've taken off from work today to tell my president that this is an unjust war and that the world knows it," Elayne McClanen, 73, of Sandy Springs, Md., told UPI. McClanen said despite her age she was willing and waiting to be arrested.

Other anti-war protesters urged President Bush to spend federal resources to solve problems at home.

"I am very much against this war," a 17-year-old student from South River High School in Edgewater, Md., told UPI. "We have needs here at home, including education and health care, and money is being diverted to fight this war against Iraq."

In Los Angeles, scores of anti-war protesters marched through Hollywood, chanting and disrupting traffic Saturday. Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Renee Montoya said the protests began around noon at the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

The marchers then headed toward the CNN building several blocks away at the corner of Sunset and Wilcox, she said.

The LAPD remains on a modified tactical alert, and county, state and private security forces increased patrols around the city at critical locations including airports, harbors and the Kodak Theatre, home of Sunday's Academy Awards.

Meanwhile, after several days of anti-war demonstrations, Chicago Saturday saw its first rally in support of Bush and coalition troops.

The Free Republic Network, a collection of Internet and conservative radio hosts, organized the midday rally in Federal Plaza. Authorities estimated about 2,500 turned out — fewer than half as many people as the 5,000 who turned out Friday for an anti-war rally in the plaza. Other rallies in support of the troops were planned around the nation.

"I want to make sure our troops don't just see them, but they see us," Free Republic organizer Andrew Burns told the crowd, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The gathering in Chicago was part of The Rally for America, which included more than 100 events nationwide planned for this weekend, said Scott Swett, chairman of the non-profit Free Republic Network.

"What we want to do is provide the opportunity for those who support the war in Iraq, to make their voices heard," Swett said. "How long we continue holding rallies depends on "how strongly people feel that the other side needs to be represented by going out into the street."

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