U.S. demonstrations intensify with bombing campaign
Military backers organize own rallies as peace marchers converge in Chicago, N.Y
NEW YORK -- Anti-war activists marched again Saturday in dozens of cities, marshaling well over 100,000 in Manhattan and sometimes trading insults with backers of the U.S.-led war on Iraq. War backers rallied too, often by the thousands, with American flags and chants of "USA!"
In Chicago, some of about 800 troop supporters came within 20 feet of a small group of anti-war activists outside a federal building. As the protesters shouted "killers, killers, killers," a military backer yelled back "idiots, idiots, idiots." Later, about 500 anti-war protesters marched around the same building.
Carrying peace signs and wearing costumes, demonstrators in New York spanned 30 blocks as they marched down Broadway toward Washington Square Park. Unofficial police estimates put the crowd at more than 125,000; United for Peace and Justice, the march organizers, estimated the crowd at more than 250,000.
"I believe if you really want to show 'shock and awe,' you should show love and justice," said marcher Bob Edgar, an officer at the National Council of Churches.
Carol Laverne wore a pair of angel's wings and carried a sign saying "Thou shall not kill." Susan Sonz and her 9-year-old son, Ruben, came to the march from their home near the World Trade Center ground zero site. The boy carried a sign saying, "Ground Zero kids against the war."
"We don't want to see more innocent people die," Sonz said.
Some celebrities joined in, including actors Roy Scheider, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and singer Patti Smith.
"We support the troops, but we do not support the president," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., a Korean War veteran.
About 2,000 police were assigned to the rally, including undercover officers with beeper-sized radiation detectors and other counterterrorism measures. Officers scuffled with some activists at one point, and police in riot gear moved in to break up the crowd. About 50 arrests were reported by police, who said 11 officers were injured.
Thousands protested in San Francisco after two days of anti-war rallies in which about 2,200 were arrested.
San Francisco police on Friday vowed to be more aggressive in controlling the crowds, but the latest demonstration was largely peaceful at the outset.
In Hollywood, war protesters marched down Sunset Boulevard, complaining that news coverage is slanted. One sign showed a photo of an Iraqi mother with a wounded child and said, "Collateral damage has a face."
In Washington, several hundred protesters, chanting "No blood for oil," strode through the streets and rallied in front of the White House. Their pink and orange signs read "No war against Iraq" and "Money for unemployment, not war."
Two protesters were arrested. One of them pushed an officer off his bicycle, police said.
More than 5,000 backers of the American military demonstrated at a baseball stadium in Millington, Tenn., home to a military base. Ricky Hunt held a poster with an 8-by-10 photograph of a young Marine he knows in Iraq. He also slung a Marine Corps flag over his shoulder.
"We're really tired of all the protesters. I don't understand them. I think they ought to remember where they got their freedom," Hunt said.
An estimated 15,000 pro-military demonstrators crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, prayed, and sang patriotic songs in Auburn, Ind. Similar numbers massed in St. Paul, Minn.
In Louisville, Ky., about 400 young military wives, leather-clad bikers, veterans and others also massed and declared solidarity with U.S. soldiers.
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