Women's Day Brings War Protests

Times Staff Writers

With hot-pink wigs, pink pig-mobiles and pink buttons, antiwar protesters rallied in a park and then marched to the White House on Saturday, demanding that President Bush put the brakes on war.

The Women for Peace demonstration, which drew authors Alice Walker and Maxine Hong Kingston among others, coincided with International Women's Day rallies throughout the world.

U.S. Park Police said 25 people were arrested for demonstrating on the sidewalk outside the White House after police had closed off the area for security reasons. Walker and Kingston were among those arrested. A police spokesman said the protesters surrendered peaceably, and were all expected to be processed and released.

With crowd counts becoming an increasingly politicized issue, police declined to offer estimates of how many people were at the White House.

Across the country, rallies were held in dozens of cities.

In Los Angeles, an estimated 750 war protesters began their peaceful demonstration with a morning rally outside the federal building in Westwood, then marched to nearby Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Five women disrobed during the march, but there were no arrests or citations during the daylong protest, the Sheriff's Department said.

In Washington, the protesters passed a handful of counter-demonstrators who berated them for ignoring what they said was the widespread rape and torture of Iraqi women by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Kathleen Riordan, a 60-year-old federal employee, traveled from Philadelphia to take part in the march.

"Half the Iraqi population is under the age of 18," she said. "How many kids are going to get killed? How many parents are going to get killed?"

Some carried blue United Nations flags, while one man held up a sign that said, "Patience is a virtue. Work through the U.N."

The Raging Grannies -- including a 94-year-old woman who celebrated her 90th birthday walking across the U.S. to promote campaign finance reform -- sang antiwar songs on the back of a flatbed truck.

A pig-mobile, shaped like a piggy bank, was intended as a symbol of money wasted on war. It was driven by Peggy Luhrs of Burlington, Vt., who said the converted Chevy van drew a lot of attention during its trek south Friday on the New Jersey Turnpike.

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