Thousands Protest Bush Policy
Sunday, January 28, 2007
A raucous and colorful multitude of protesters, led by some of the aging activists of the past, staged a series of rallies and a march on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq.
Under a blue sky with a pale midday moon, tens of thousands of people angry about the war and other policies of the Bush administration danced, sang, shouted and chanted their opposition.
They came from across the country and across the activist spectrum, with a wide array of grievances. Many seemed to be under 30, but there were others who said they had been at the famed war protests of the 1960s and '70s.
They came to Washington at what they said was a moment of opportunity to push the new Congress to take action against the war, even as the Bush administration is accelerating plans to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. This week, the Senate will begin debating a resolution of disapproval of the president's Iraq policy, setting up a dramatic confrontation with the White House.
Some protesters plan to stay and lobby their representatives in Congress. Other antiwar activists intend to barnstorm states this week urging senators to oppose the troop escalation.
Yesterday's crowd was large and vociferous, but its size was unclear because there was no official crowd estimate. It was filled with longtime opponents of the conflict and of the administration.
"Its primary value is that it keeps up the pressure," said former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. "There is a sense that by summer, a march like this will be two or three times as large."
The demonstrators were garbed in many colors and T-shirts and buttons of many sentiments. "Think," read one shirt. "It's not illegal yet." A button read: "Kill your lawn." Read another: "Trees Hate You."
But the overriding complaint was the U.S. prosecution of the war in Iraq.
"Peace is controversial," civil rights and community activist Jesse Jackson, 65, said in a rousing address to the crowd gathered at the east end of the Mall. "But so is war. The fruit of peace is so much sweeter."
Some came for relatives in the service. A New York woman came on behalf of her younger brother, who she said was about to be deployed to Iraq. She had a framed picture of him in a knapsack. An Akron, Ohio, woman came with her infant son, saying his father, in the Navy in Kuwait, had yet to see him.
Oriana Futrell, 21, of Spokane, Wash., came with a sign that said: "Bring my husband home now." She said her husband, Dan, an Army lieutenant, was in Baghdad. They were married in April. She said she was weary of attending military funerals.