- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

NEW YORK, March 27 (UPI) — Hundreds of war protesters crowded Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center in New York City blocking traffic for less than an hour Thursday morning.

The demonstrators, who lay in the street to portray Iraqi war victims, were arrested and led away in plastic handcuffs by police. Some had to be carried by police. Protesters on the sidelines carried signs and chanted, "Bush's war has got to go."

The New York Police Department said traffic had been blocked less than an hour, but there was still no word on how many were arrested in the protest.

An ad-hoc coalition of anti-war groups has called for a "massive non-violent civil disobedience to begin at 8 a.m. Thursday in New York City and throughout the day."

The group that calls itself M27 — for March 27 — wants to "target the media and government collusion that is promoting this war to further corporate interests." The Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan is home to many media and corporate offices.

"The plan is for a massive die-in on Fifth Avenue at Rockefeller Center, with coordinated actions planned by affinity groups throughout the city. A Web site is being established at M27coalition.org, according to the Web site United for Peace and Justice, which organized the largely peaceful demonstration in Manhattan last Saturday.

"The reality of the war in Iraq is likely very different from what's being shown by the U.S. television networks. Already reports of civilian deaths and destruction that are being reported in the foreign media are conspicuously absent from U.S. TV screens," continued the Web site United for Peace and Justice.

Mark Milano, spokesman for M-27, was not available for comment, but the M-27 Web site said: "Every day now the lives of Iraqis are ending, and our everyday lives must end as well. We cannot routinely go to work and school, come home, turn on the government-manipulated media and watch the Iraqi skies light up with bombs while we eat dinner. We cannot stand by as our government slaughters thousands of Iraqi civilians. We cannot continue to watch passively the homeless, hungry and sick on the streets of New York City while billions of dollars are being spent on bombs. No business as usual!"

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