Protesters turn out for war’s anniversary
Thousands of people carried signs and chanted in the streets of Manhattan on Tuesday, calling for an end to the war in Iraq, which began five years ago today.
Demonstrators also converged in Washington; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and elsewhere to call on President Bush to heed what they said was the will of the people.
Marchers said the anniversary of the war came at a time of condemnation of the fighting and a disconnect with politicians in Washington.
“The American people want this war to end,” actor and filmmaker Tim Robbins said at the start of the march. “When are we going to start listening to them?”
Beatrice Rubsam, 55, of Mastic Beach, whose son is an Army sergeant leaving for Iraq this week, joined the protesters in calling for all U.S. forces to be withdrawn from Iraq, which she said would reduce violence in that country.
“I just think we’re wasting our time over there,” Rubsam said. “Instead of making it better, we’re just making it worse.”
The march from Bryant Park up to 57th Street, and then south again to the United Nations, stretched for more than a mile, with some people carrying signs reading “Not one more dollar! Not one more death!”
In Washington, demonstrators opened two days of war protests Tuesday with a raucous morning march along Constitution Avenue and a piece of silent street theater during the evening rush hour inside Union Station.
A full day of rallies, marches, blockades and demonstrations is planned today for downtown Washington. Activists plan to blockade the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service as well as offices of various corporations in the vicinity of K Street. Antiwar veterans plan a 9 a.m. march on the Mall from the National Museum of the American Indian to the Capitol.
Many of the marchers in New York said that with such large appropriations earmarked for the war, there were problems caring for soldiers when they returned. They cited the recent scandal over degraded facilities at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“There is something morally wrong with a country that will spend billions on the war and cut funding for healthcare,” said Clyde A. Anderson, chief executive of the United Methodist City Society, alluding to the battle over Medicare cuts in New York.