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Antiwar Protests Commence in Washington
In a hitch for some coming to the protest, 13 Amtrak trains running between New York and Washington were delayed for up to three hours Saturday morning for repair of overhead electrical lines. Protest organizers said that held up thousands coming to the rally.
Organizers delayed the start of the march, originally planned to begin at 12:30 p.m., to wait for protesters arriving on the Amtrak trains. There were other reports of Metro delays in northern Virginia on the Blue and Yellow lines.
Elsewhere, rallies were planned in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Florence, London, Rome, Paris and Madrid.
A crowd in London, estimated by police at 10,000, marched in support of withdrawing British troops from Iraq. Violent clashes between insurgents and British troops in the southern Iraq city of Basra in recent days highlighted the need to get out, protesters said.
"Enough is enough," said Lindsey German, an official of the Stop the War Coalition, which organized the London march. "It is now time, once again, for the British people to step forward into the streets and insist that this time we will not be ignored."
Counter demonstrations also were planned.
Gary Qualls, 48, of Temple, Tex., whose Marine reservist son, Louis, died last year in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, spoke at a rally near the U.S. Navy Memorial in support of continued U.S. involvement.
"If you bring them home now, who's going to be responsible for all the atrocities that are fixing to happen over there?" he asked. "Cindy Sheehan?
Also at the rally, put on by Protest Warrior and other groups supporting Bush's policy, demonstrators denounced Sheehan as a mother exploiting her son's death.
"If I were to die in Iraq, I wouldn't want my parents to be like Cindy Sheehan," said Army National Guard Spc. Julie McManus, 20, of Drexel Hill, Pa., who was among more than 100 people holding signs. "I'd be ashamed of them."
McManus said she drove to Washington with her boyfriend; she wore a white tank top with the words "American Soldier" in black marker.
Protesters were not the only visitors to the city this weekend. As fate would have it, organizers of the National Book Festival found themselves sharing the Mall with antiwar protesters. They stationed volunteers in green t-shirts at the top of the escalators at the Smithsonian metro station so that the thousands arriving would know which event was which.