Thousands rally on anniversary of Iraq invasion
03-20-2010 02:25 PM
WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters carried signs reading “Indict Bush Now” and flag-draped cardboard coffins Saturday, urging President Obama to withdraw troops from Iraq on the seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion.
Protesters gathered for a rally at Lafayette Park across from the White House and planned to march through downtown. Stops on the route include military contractor Halliburton, the Mortgage Bankers Association and The Washington Post offices.
The protest, organized by military veterans and activists Ralph Nader and Cindy Sheehan, was expected to draw smaller crowds than the tens of thousands who marched in 2006 and 2007. But organizers say momentum is building because people are disenchanted with Obama’s decision to send more troops into Afghanistan.
At the rally, Sheehan asked whether “the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House” — an apparent reference to Obama — prompting moderate applause. Sheehan also encouraged protesters to join a tent camp near the Washington Monument, saying they need to do more than shake their fists at empty buildings.
She pledged to erect the tents again after the National Park Service forced protesters to take down the tents Monday.
Sheehan has been a vocal critic of the war since her 21-year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She staged a prolonged demonstration in 2005 outside former President George W. Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Texas.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark also spoke, calling on the Justice Department to investigate the officials who launched the Iraq war.
In New York City, there were far fewer protesters at a similar rally. A few dozen enthusiastic protesters gathered near a military recruiting station in Times Square, although they were far outnumbered by uninterested tourists.
A group of older women calling themselves the Raging Grannies sang, “The country is broke, this war is a joke.” Four demonstrators evoked images of the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by dressing in orange uniforms and wearing black hoods.
Liz Proefriedt, a retired Roman Catholic nun, held up a banner that read, “Bread not bombs.”
“It’s sad that a lot of people did not come out for this protest,” said Kathy Hoang, of Manchester, Conn. “People are getting used to the war, and don’t bother even to think about it anymore.”
Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik contributed to this report from New York.
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