Thousands of people called for a swift end to the war in Iraq as they marched through downtown San Francisco on Saturday, chanting and carrying such signs as “Wall Street Gets Rich, Iraqis and GIs Die” and “Drop Tuition Not Bombs.”
Labor union members, clergy and others filled the streets, rallying near City Hall before marching to Dolores Park.
The protest was the largest in a series of antiwar marches taking place across the country, including in New York City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
No official crowd estimates were available, though organizers of the San Francisco march estimated 30,000 people participated. “I got the sense that many people were at a demonstration for the first time,” said Sarah Sloan, one of the event’s organizers. “That’s something that’s really changed. People have realized the right thing to do is to take to the streets.”
In Los Angeles, protesters marched up Broadway Street around noon to City Hall. On Temple Street, a “die-in” was staged in which Iraq veterans and supporters laid down as the sounds of air raid sirens and bomb blasts filled the air, organizers said.
March participants included actors Martin Sheen and Mark Ruffalo and Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, organizers said.
In Philadelphia, in the shadow of the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall, a few hundred protesters ranging from grade-school-age children to senior citizens called on President Bush to end funding for the war and bring troops home.
Marchers who braved severe wet weather during the walk of more than 30 blocks were met by people lining the sidewalks and clutching a long yellow ribbon over the final blocks before Independence Mall. There, the rally opened with songs and prayers by descendants of Lenape Indians.
“Our signs are limp from the rain and the ground is soggy, but our spirits are high,” said Bal Pinguel, an official with the American Friends Service Committee, one of the event’s national sponsors.
“The high price we are paying is the more than 3,800 troops who have been killed in the war in Iraq.”
In New York, among the thousands marching down Broadway was a man carrying cardboard peace doves.
Some others dressed as prisoners, wearing the bright orange garb of Guantanamo Bay inmates and pushing a person in a cage.
In Seattle, thousands of marchers were led by a small group of Iraq war veterans.
At Occidental Park, where the Seattle protesters rallied after the march, the American Friends Service Committee displayed combat boots, one pair for each U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.