Protesters Cap Weekend Of Action

Anti-war protesters march against the possible U.S. war against Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2003, in Washington.
AP
Dancing in a conga line and shouting calls for peace, demonstrators on Sunday pressed as close to the White House grounds as they could get to demand that President Bush back off Iraq. Police swiftly arrested those who breached barricades.

A crowd of about 1,000 rallied in view of the Executive Mansion, capping a weekend of demonstrations that featured a huge and peaceful rally Saturday and protests around the world.

At one point Sunday, protesters flooded into a street to block traffic; police pushed and dragged them back. In the scuffle, an older woman who was part of the demonstration was pushed over. She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, conscious but with unknown injuries.

Protesters were not sure they could stop America from going to war. But Dunya Cope, 18, a Georgetown University freshman, wanted history to note that they tried.

"Historically, it's important to show that there was such an outcry, that people just didn't go along with it," she said.

On a weekend of remembrance for Martin Luther King Jr., many invoked the civil rights leader's legacy of nonviolent resistance. Said Heather Williams, 30, of Alexandria, Va.: "We still have a dream."

Close to 500 protesters assembled first near the Justice Department and FBI headquarters to denounce "racist witch hunts" by U.S. authorities following the Sept. 11 attacks.

During a mile-long march in the cold, that crowd met another of a similar size, waiting by Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. That set off a surge of enthusiasm and some began running toward, and over, chest-high barricades blocking the park boundaries.

Police forced them face down on snowy grass, bound their wrists with plastic handcuffs and made 16 arrests. No more arrests followed, U.S. Park Police after the crowds dispersed.

Despite that, the mood was largely festive. Scores formed a conga line that snaked along the packed section of H Street — on the other side of the park from the White House — that was set aside for the protest. Others tied themselves together with yarn.

But organizers had pledged nonviolent civil disobedience, making the tone tenser than Saturday, when tens of thousands rallied and only a few people were taken into custody. About 100 tried to block traffic and were moved forcefully by police.

Bush was at Camp David, Md., for the weekend. Protesters wanted to get as close as possible to the White House to protest his Iraq policy.

"Bush is asking for a weapons inspection everywhere else and it's only fair that his place is inspected too," said Jodi Hiland, 32, of Minneapolis.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the president "is trying every means not to go to war, but the decision to go to war is in the hands of Saddam Hussein," the Iraqi president.

Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, welcomed the protests as an expression of American freedoms.

"And it contrasts so greatly with the situation that people in Iraq find themselves in, where your tongue can be ripped out for criticizing the regime," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

At the opening rally between the Justice and FBI buildings, demonstrators expressed outrage over what they see as overreaching law enforcement tactics since Sept. 11, 2001.

"This is the center of all the racist attacks on people of color that have been happening for so long," said Peta Lindsay, an 18-year-old freshman at Howard University.

Shouting from a megaphone, Lindsay told the crowd that the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service are going to universities and demanding files on certain students.

"We will defend ourselves and our brothers from these racist witch hunts," Lindsay said.

Richard Csontos, 50, a carpenter from Scranton, Pa., bicycled to Washington on a frigid five-day trip as part of his protest. "It's the people of both countries who die," he said.

Protesters moved on to another park, linked arms to the beat of African drums, and dispersed. "Let us be clear, we will be back," said Lisa Fithian, 41, of Austin Texas. "We will do everything we can to stop this war."

Dancing in a conga line and shouting calls for peace, demonstrators on Sunday pressed as close to the White House grounds as they could get to demand that President Bush back off Iraq. Police swiftly arrested those who breached barricades.

A crowd of about 1,000 rallied in view of the Executive Mansion, capping a weekend of demonstrations that featured a huge and peaceful rally Saturday and protests around the world.

At one point Sunday, protesters flooded into a street to block traffic; police pushed and dragged them back. In the scuffle, an older woman who was part of the demonstration was pushed over. She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, conscious but with unknown injuries.

Protesters were not sure they could stop America from going to war. But Dunya Cope, 18, a Georgetown University freshman, wanted history to note that they tried.

"Historically, it's important to show that there was such an outcry, that people just didn't go along with it," she said.

On a weekend of remembrance for Martin Luther King Jr., many invoked the civil rights leader's legacy of nonviolent resistance. Said Heather Williams, 30, of Alexandria, Va.: "We still have a dream."

Close to 500 protesters assembled first near the Justice Department and FBI headquarters to denounce "racist witch hunts" by U.S. authorities following the Sept. 11 attacks.

During a mile-long march in the cold, that crowd met another of a similar size, waiting by Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. That set off a surge of enthusiasm and some began running toward, and over, chest-high barricades blocking the park boundaries.

Police forced them face down on snowy grass, bound their wrists with plastic handcuffs and made 16 arrests. No more arrests followed, U.S. Park Police after the crowds dispersed.

Despite that, the mood was largely festive. Scores formed a conga line that snaked along the packed section of H Street — on the other side of the park from the White House — that was set aside for the protest. Others tied themselves together with yarn.

But organizers had pledged nonviolent civil disobedience, making the tone tenser than Saturday, when tens of thousands rallied and only a few people were taken into custody. About 100 tried to block traffic and were moved forcefully by police.

Bush was at Camp David, Md., for the weekend. Protesters wanted to get as close as possible to the White House to protest his Iraq policy.

"Bush is asking for a weapons inspection everywhere else and it's only fair that his place is inspected too," said Jodi Hiland, 32, of Minneapolis.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the president "is trying every means not to go to war, but the decision to go to war is in the hands of Saddam Hussein," the Iraqi president.

Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, welcomed the protests as an expression of American freedoms.

"And it contrasts so greatly with the situation that people in Iraq find themselves in, where your tongue can be ripped out for criticizing the regime," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

At the opening rally between the Justice and FBI buildings, demonstrators expressed outrage over what they see as overreaching law enforcement tactics since Sept. 11, 2001.

"This is the center of all the racist attacks on people of color that have been happening for so long," said Peta Lindsay, an 18-year-old freshman at Howard University.

Shouting from a megaphone, Lindsay told the crowd that the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service are going to universities and demanding files on certain students.

"We will defend ourselves and our brothers from these racist witch hunts," Lindsay said.

Richard Csontos, 50, a carpenter from Scranton, Pa., bicycled to Washington on a frigid five-day trip as part of his protest. "It's the people of both countries who die," he said.

Protesters moved on to another park, linked arms to the beat of African drums, and dispersed. "Let us be clear, we will be back," said Lisa Fithian, 41, of Austin Texas. "We will do everything we can to stop this war."

On Saturday, a great throng stretched from the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and along the National Mall back to the Smithsonian Institution for a rally in bitter cold. The U.S. Park Police no longer gives estimates of rally attendance.

In the past, crowds taking up similar space were thought to be 70,000 strong or higher, but any parallels with other events were highly inexact. A much smaller group from the rally, but still numbering over 30,000 by city police estimates, went on to march to the Washington Navy Yard.

Rally speakers offered varying estimates of the crowd size, with one telling the crowd that 500,000 had come, but even some supporters of the event thought that was wildly exaggerated.

"I heard that from the stage and I sort of laughed out loud," said Brendan McCarthy, a publicist for Artists United to Win Without War who helped arrange celebrities for Saturday's rally. But he said the 30,000 estimate for the march seemed far too low.