Anti-war protesters evoked images of the '60s yesterday in rallies across the nation. At the same time, supporters of the U.S.-led military offensive took to the streets chanting, "U.S.A., U.S.A."
In Yorba Linda, Calif., about 200 people with red, white and blue balloons gathered in front of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace to show support for the attack on Iraq.
In Fayetteville, Ark., police formed a line to separate opposing groups who faced off in rallies at the federal building. A group supporting U.S. military policy chanted, "U.S.A., U.S.A.," as a coalition called Northwest Arkansas Citizens Against War marched toward them carrying a flag-draped coffin and a banner that read, "Bring Them Home Alive."
In Boston, hundreds of anti-war protesters gathered on Boston Common, while 150 counter-demonstrators rallied at the Statehouse nearby. "Our generation is having problems with it," said anti-war protester Cora Stubbs, 16, a high school student. "It's our first war."
Few arrests were reported as of midday yesterday. Nearly 1,800 protesters have been arrested in the United States since war broke out, including more than 200 Friday.
In San Francisco, where more than 1,100 people have been arrested in sometimes violent demonstrations since war broke out, rock music blared and a picnic atmosphere prevailed. Meanwhile, as many as 20,000 people marched two miles from Mission Dolores Park to the city's Civic Center for a rally.
"The ongoing anti-war protests across this country make me sick," Gaylon Hafer, Arkansas American Legion commander, said at a Little Rock conference. "I think the young men and women that we've sent off to Desert Shield deserve better than a sign-carrying bunch of people."
But demonstrators in Baton Rouge, La., said they supported the troops even as they oppose the war. "It is with a heavy heart that we do this because we don't want to demoralize our troops," said Sister Jane Aucoin of Sisters of St. Joseph's, a Roman Catholic order. "But this war is wrong, and we want to tell the troops we wish you didn't have to be there."
In West Virginia, about 100 high school students in Charleston rallied at the state Capitol to support friends and relatives serving in the war. Becky Recco, 16, carried a sign reading, "Support My Dad."
In Salt Lake City, hundreds of demonstrators chanted anti-war slogans, waved signs and marched. "They try to present it as a Nintendo game," Chuck Hunt, a University of Utah sociology professor, said at a rally. "People die in this game."