A story yesterday misstated the affiliation of an anti-war activist. Phyllis Englebert is a coordinator with the Washington Area Coalition to Stop U.S. Intervention in the Middle East. (Published 1/18/ 91)

A demonstration by several dozen anxious people in Lafayette Square swelled to an angry gathering of several hundred last night after the U.S. attacked Iraq, culminating in a brief clash between the protesters and mounted police officers.

A small group of demonstrators had gathered in the park across from the White House early yesterday, praying, chanting and beating drums to voice their opposition to military action in the Persian Gulf.

When news of the attack spread shortly after 7 p.m., the demonstration quickly grew to an estimated 300 people, who left the park shortly after President Bush's 9 p.m. speech and began marching north. They made a loop around downtown, marching north on 16th Street and Connecticut Avenue to Florida Avenue NW, then east to 16th Street and back toward Lafayette Square.

After reaching the White House about 11:15 p.m., a group of marchers pushed against a line of mounted U.S. Park Police officers, who clubbed at least two of them. That prompted a few protesters to hurl rocks and bottles at the police.

Holding their batons in front of their chests, helmeted Park Police and District police pushed the demonstrators into the square, where they sang and chanted anti-war slogans. Just before midnight, three of the demonstrators were arrested.

The scuffles continued for a short time, and 11 more demonstrators were arrested before the crowd began to disperse early this morning.

Not all of those in Lafayette Square were opposed to the Persian Gulf attack. Three or four dozen people shouted their support for Bush's action and exchanged taunts with the war protesters.

Shortly after the start of the march, Phyllis Engelbert, 26, a coordinator for the Washington Area Peace Center, said, "We are teaching the whole city that there will be no business as usual as long as they are killing people in the Middle East."

Engelbert said planning for the demonstration had begun just after U.S. troops were dispatched to the region in August.

Representatives of anti-war organizations predicted last night that their movements -- already growing with unexpected speed this week before any hostilities -- would now explode.

In New York City, more than 400 protesters gathered less than an hour after news of the attack for a spontaneous demonstration in Times Square in front of a military recruiting station. "No blood for oil," they yelled as they marched in a circle around the station.

From Times Square, some of the demonstrators marched to the United Nations, where another protest by several hundred people took place.

"What will I say to the kids tomorrow?" asked a weeping Cindy Fletcher, a teacher of handicapped children, as she watched news of the bombing in Iraq and Kuwait unfurl on the electronic billboard above Times Square.

Two of the largest anti-war groups, which have planned demonstrations for this Saturday and next in Washington, urged callers last night to go to the White House or the United Nations to protest.

Organizers of the groups, the National Coalition to Stop U.S. Intervention in the Middle East and the National Campaign for Peace in the Middle East, said they were swamped with calls to their Washington and New York offices. In Washington, the groups plan a joint demonstration today at 5 p.m. at the White House.

"We're outraged at this aggression," said David Hostetter, a spokesman for the coalition. "The one aggression into Kuwait was bad enough. This is worse." Hostetter predicted "mass turnouts" for two Washington marches that are scheduled for this Saturday and next Saturday.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of demonstrators across the country tried to stop traffic and block entrances to federal buildings. Although demonstrations appeared smaller yesterday and fewer in number than earlier in the week, organizers had described the lull as temporary.

Similar sentiments reverberated across the nation this week as tens of thousands of Americans demonstrated against the looming war in numbers far greater than organizers had expected.

In Los Angeles, about 500 demonstrators, many dressed in T-shirts with slogans such as "How Many Deaths Per Gallon?," scuffled with club-wielding marshals. They succeeded in closing a busy federal building for three hours at midday; 158 were arrested.

Similar demonstrations erupted throughout the western states as well as in Boston and Chicago, where demonstrators also tried to block the entrances to federal buildings.

At the White House, where thousands of protesters gathered for candlelight vigils on Monday and Tuesday nights, about three dozen demonstrators stood quietly in the noon rain yesterday, holding up signs or pacing the sidewalk during the noon hour. Beth Arnoot, 45, of McLean, and a mother of three, said she came because she did not know what else to do.

"I thought if {Bush} could see people saying no, it might make him stop," said Arnoot, who said she had never really participated in a protest before this.

In Boston, several hundred protesters tried to block the entrance to the John F. Kennedy Federal Building. Chanting "No blood for oil," some poured red dye on nearby snowbanks to symbolize the blood of war casualties. Later in the morning, about 30 protesters were arrested when they blocked the entrance to the automobile tunnel under Boston Harbor.

The successful effort to close the Los Angeles federal building drew many high school students, veteran anti-war activists and even the city attorney of Santa Monica, Calif.

Several high school students were arrested after a sidewalk skit portraying American businessmen picking dollars off the bodies of American youth. Several older demonstrators, including some in their seventies, also were arrested.

In Olympia, Wash., state Rep. Dick Nelson (D-Seattle) said he expected approval soon of the nation's first state legislative resolution opposing military action in the Persian Gulf. Nelson said legislators were galvanized by several hundred student demonstrators who took over their chamber Tuesday. Ten remaining demonstrators were removed from the chamber yesterday morning.

San Francisco anti-war activists, so far the best organized in the West, said they were putting most of their efforts into a planned Saturday march expected to draw 20,000 people.

Another San Francisco protest is planned for Jan. 26, with support from "everyone from Republicans to the left of the left," said Hilary Diamond, a staff member of the organizing coalition.

A small group of demonstrators camping in front of the state capital in Sacramento, Calif., planned a march to the federal building there. In Montezuma, Ariz., 49 students representing 23 nationalities at the Armand Hammer United World College began a five-day hunger strike to protest war in the Middle East.