Anti-War Protests Continue With Large Crowds in N.Y.

Marchers stretched more than three miles down Broadway in New York City, chanting “No Blood for Oil” and carrying signs such as “Support Our Troops. Bring Them Home,” “Peace is Patriotic” and “You Can’t Save A Country By Bombing It.”

By midday, police estimated the crowd at 40,000, the group United for Peace and Justice, but within an hour said it had climbed considerably higher. The march’s organizers later Saturday said it was closer to 200,000.

Among those marching was U.S. Rep Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

“We support the troops, but we do not support the president,” Rangel said.

Susan Sonz and her 9-year-old son, Ruben, came to the march from their home near the World Trade Center site. The boy carried a sign saying, “Ground Zero kids against the war.”

“We don’t want to see more innocent people die,” Susan Sonz said.

In contrast with the San Francisco antiwar protests earlier this week that produced 2,200 arrests in two days, the Manhattan march was reportedly peaceful, moving south in an orderly fashion.

In Washington, D.C., between 200 and 300 people rallied across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park for about an hour before marching through the streets.

“Bush Does Not Speak For Me,” said one protest sign.

President Bush was not at the White House on Saturday, spending the weekend instead at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. He met with his top advisers to discuss the war this morning and spoke with British Prime Minister Tony Blair by telephone, spokesmen said.

In Chicago, crowds demonstrating in support of the troops and President Bush came within 20 feet of anti-war activists outside a federal building. As the protesters shouted, “killers, killers, killers,” a military backer yelled back, “idiots, idiots, idiots.”

They were met by crowds supporting Bush and waving flags and chanting “U-S-A.” About 200 anti-war protesters shouted back from the other end of the plaza, and a line of police separated the two sides. No arrests were reported.

Signs from the demonstrators supporting war read, “We Gave Peace a Chance and It Cost Us 9/11” and “Anti-War is Anti-American.”

In Lansing, Mich., war supporters rallied at the state capitol with American flags. Patriotic music rang out, and the crowd of hundreds chanted “USA.”

Abroad, tens of thousands of angry protesters from London to Japan again marched against the war. Some denounced their governments for backing the United States.

Saturday’s marches against the war were much smaller than the anti-war protests mounted on Feb. 15, which were some of the largest demonstrations in history.

Meanwhile, recent polls show increasing American support for the war. A New York Times/CBS poll conducted on Thursday evening found that 70 percent of Americans surveyed “approved of Mr. Bush’s handling of Iraq, an increase of 19 points in 10 days.”

In Britain, a poll due to be published on Sunday in the News of the World newspaper reported 56 percent of those surveyed believed Blair’s handling of the crisis had been “about right” while 26 percent thought he had been “too firm” in launching a war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The paper said support for Blair two weeks ago was just 29 percent.

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