- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

Police are expecting thousands of demonstrators to converge at the U.S. Capitol today for a rally and march protesting the war in Iraq.

Lt. Scott Fear, a U.S. Park Police spokesman, said police will institute rolling road closures as demonstrators march in the area around the Capitol beginning at 1 p.m.

He said a full contingent of officers will be deployed in cruisers, on foot, on horseback and on motorcycles for what is expected to be one of the largest protests since the war began in March 2003.

“We don’t expect any problems,” Lt. Fear said. “We did meet with the organizers. They all say it’s going to be a peaceful event.”

National Park Service officials said the umbrella protest group United for Peace and Justice has a permit to set up a stage on the Mall at Third Street Northwest for an 11 a.m. rally. The group claims to represent a coalition of more than 1,300 local and national activist groups.

According to the group’s Web site, www.unitedforpeace.org, confirmed speakers include celebrities Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Danny Glover, Jane Fonda and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Park service officials issued a permit for a 1 p.m. march from the rally site that will move north along Third Street to Constitution Avenue and proceed halfway around the Capitol. Marchers will turn east on Constitution Avenue past the Capitol to First Street Northeast and turn south past the Supreme Court to East Capitol Street.

Marchers will then turn around and head north on First Street Northeaston the west side of the street, then march west on Constitution Avenue and south on First Street Northwest to the west lawn of the Capitol.

Rally organizers say they hope for a crowd upward of 300,000 people and that weather could be a critical factor in how many people show up. The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny day with temperatures near 50 degrees.

Lt. Fear said officials expect a number of smaller, feeder marches to join the main group on the Mall.

The group Code Pink is expected to hold a rally at the Navy Memorial, at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest at 10 a.m. before meeting up with the main protest group on the Mall. Activists supporting the war have a demonstration planned at the same location later in the day.

Lt. Fear said a group of anarchists is also expected to meet the main rally from Dupont Circle.

Metropolitan Police say they will be supporting Park Police efforts but have not planned any additional road closures or restrictions. Police spokesman Quentin Peterson said there were no plans to activate the department’s Joint Operations Command Center or the city’s network of downtown surveillance cameras used to monitor big events.

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