SAN FRANCISCO, JAN. 19 -- Police had few confrontations today with an estimated 35,000 anti-war demonstrators who walked a 1 1/2-mile route from Mission Dolores Park to a rally at the Civic Center. In the previous four days of protests here, more than 1,700 arrests had been made.
The activity here was similar to that in many cities as thousands of people took to the streets to support and oppose the war with Iraq.
Community activists, church and union leaders, gay organizations, environmental groups and common-interest groups such as punk rockers and street-theater performers carried signs with slogans that included "No Oil War." Rally organizers said the crowd numbered closer to 100,000.
At the rally, a plane flew past pulling a banner that said, "Go Desert Storm. Support Our Troops." Across the Bay Bridge at Alameda Naval Air Station, demonstrators gathered in support of U.S. troops.
A small group of Soviet immigrants, one of whom said its members were U.S. citizens, carried American flags and "Pro USA" signs near the Civic Center. They were surrounded by police officers on motorcycles as onlookers shouted obscenities. The immigrants shouted back, "Support our soldiers. United we stand."
This week's demonstrations, which have cost the city more than $100,000 a day for police overtime and damage repair, ranged from peaceful protests such as a mock funeral by members of religious organizations to violent outbursts.
Earlier in the week, crowds rampaged through the streets, throwing rocks, screaming obscenities and forcing temporary closure of the Bay Bridge. Police reported 28 arrests today.
"We've all said that, once war breaks out, we need to be in the streets day after day," said Diane Wang, spokeswoman for the "Jan. 19 Mobilization" organized by the Emergency Committee to Stop the U.S. War in the Middle East.
"The other night, when war broke out, we had 25,000 people within an hour's notice," she said.
Tracey Johnson, 20, carried a sign today that read, "Bring My Brother Home."
"We have a war at home," she said. "We have things in the U.S. to take care of." She cited the need for more money to combat homelessness and the drug epidemic.
Later tonight, San Francisco police said they were expecting 20,000 to 40,000 people to demonstrate at Candlestick Park before and during the NFL conference championship game between the 49ers and New York Giants scheduled for 4 p.m. Police said flyers to organize the demonstration were passed around at today's march. "It has the potential to be a big one," a police spokesman said.
Elsewhere today, the Associated Press reported, about 200 people clutching red, white and blue balloons gathered in front of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif., to display support for the attack on Iraq.
In Fayetteville, Ark., police formed a line to separate opposing groups facing off in rallies at the federal building. Those 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." About 3,000 anti-war demonstrators gathered on Boston Common, while 200 counter-demonstrators waved American flags at the Statehouse nearby.
Demonstrators in Baton Rouge, La., said they supported the troops but opposed 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 the 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 Charleston, W.Va., about 100 high school students rallied at the State Capitol to support friends and relatives serving in the war. Becky Recco, 16, carried a sign reading, "Support My Dad."
Twenty members of a group called Common Ground in Albany, N.Y., demonstrated against the war at an armory, marched to a family planning clinic to protest abortion, then went to the state Capitol to oppose the death penalty.
Staff writer Mike Freeman contributed to this report.