Protesters at U.N. Rally Against Iraq War
NEW YORK (AP) _ Anti-war demonstrators packed the streets north of the United Nations headquarters Saturday, filling police-barricaded protest zones for more than 20 blocks as civil rights leaders and celebrities energized the banner-waving crowd.
``Just because you have the biggest gun does not mean you must use it,″ Martin Luther King III told the demonstrators as he stood before an enormous banner reading: ``The World Says No To War.″
``Peace! Peace! Peace!″ Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said as he walked from the United Nations toward the massive rally. ``Let America listen to the rest of the world _ and the rest of the world is saying, `Give the inspectors time.‴
New York Police wouldn’t provide a crowd estimate, but the protesters stretched for 20 blocks along First Avenue and spilled west to Second Avenue, where police in riot gear and on horseback patrolled. Organizers had hoped to draw at least 100,000 people.
Police reported some arrests, but didn’t immediately provide details.
In cities across the country and around the world _ many in the capitols of America’s traditional allies _ well over a million people came out Saturday in protest of U.S. military action against Iraq.
In Rome, protesters waved rainbow ``peace″ flags, while participants in Berlin marched through the streets to back the anti-war position of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. In London, at least 750,000 protesters added to the pressure on Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been Europe’s biggest supporter of President Bush’s strong stance that Iraq must prove it has no weapons of mass destruction or face possible war.
Anti-war rallies were also planned in about 150 U.S. cities, from Yakima, Wash., to St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as in major cities including Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and Seattle. Protesters in Detroit chanted ``Give peace a chance.″
``We need to leave Iraq alone,″ said Detroit rally organizer Kris Hamel of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against the War on Iraq.
Thousands of protesters marching to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia included Quakers walking in silence, a Korean group banging drums and students chanting peace slogans.
``Can you justify blood for oil?″ read a sign held by 14-year-old Marianna Daniels at a rally in Madison, Wis.
``I’m worried about the corrosion of civil liberties in this country,″ said Grant Smith, a policy analyst from Key Biscayne, Fla., who joined a protest in Miami. ``People here are all against the war, even if not all of them think it’s being brought about for the same reason.″
It’s not just the usual protesters, said Arthur Buonomia: ``Middle America is getting off their sofas and their big screen TVs and are trying to bring about the changes that are good to end this war.″
The New York rally was opened by singer Richie Havens performing ``Freedom,″ just as he did 34 years earlier at the original Woodstock Festival. Speakers included Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger.
Security in New York was extraordinarily tight, with the city on high alert for terrorist threats.
The streets around the U.N. headquarters on Manhattan’s East Side were mostly empty but for police. Demonstrators were kept several blocks to the north because city officials denied their permit request to march along First Avenue past the U.N. complex.
All along the area, authorities deployed a new security ``package″ including sharpshooters and officers with radiation detectors, hazardous materials decontamination equipment, bomb-sniffing dogs and air-sampling equipment able to detect chemical or biological weapons.
Other demonstrators supported the possibility of U.S. military action. About 1,000 demonstrators gathered on Manhattan’s West Side, where 41-year-old George Sarris held a sign reading ``Bomb Iraq.″
``The liberals are the complainers,″ Sarris said. ``The Republicans aren’t. So I came out to tell our side of the story.″