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Archive for Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Iraq protest expected to draw thousands to D.C.

October 23, 2002

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— Organizers of a weekend march to oppose the Bush administration's showdown with Iraq promised Tuesday that the demonstration will draw thousands to Washington to become the largest anti-war protest since the Vietnam War.

The march will coincide with similar protests in San Francisco and several cities around the world, including Berlin, London, Mexico City, Rome and Tokyo.

Organizers predict that the demonstrations combined will attract hundreds of thousands of people.

"We will mount an angry, loud opposition just as we did in the Vietnam War," said Brian Becker, co-director of the International Action Center, one of dozens of groups that make up the organizing coalition, International Answer.

Last April, International Answer held a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Washington, one of several protests about various topics that occurred during the spring meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Saturday's march in Washington will begin with a rally featuring the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, actor Ossie Davis, singer Patti Smith and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Also expected is Ramsey Clark, U.S. attorney general during the Johnson administration and a longtime critic of U.S. policy toward Iraq.

Event organizers say they are protesting the Bush administration's push to strike Iraq, an attack they contend would violate international law. The president's true motive behind such a move, they argue, is to gain control of Iraq's oil reserves.

Protest organizers said they don't expect violence and doubt that the demonstration will shut down any part of the city. District of Colombia police said no additional officers will be on duty.

"Hopefully, we'll have nothing more than traffic problems," said Tony O'Leary, a police department spokesman.

More than a hundred organizations are planning to send buses to the event, organizers say. College students, expected from every state, will comprise about half the participants, they say.

Demonstrators plan to gather Saturday at Constitution Gardens, beside the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Their expected march will loop around the White House and back.

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