At Home, Anti-War Rallies Turn Unruly as Peace Hopes Dim
Undated (AP) _ Anti-war rallies took on a desperate edge Monday when demonstrators burned an American flag in Minneapolis, blocked a downtown intersection in Chicago and disrupted traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
With the deadline for a peaceful solution to the Persian Gulf crisis just one day away, there was an added sense of urgency to peace rallies. Demonstrators also turned out for rallies to support American soldiers.
Police arrested more than 100 people in Chicago during the morning rush hour when an estimated 3,000 protesters, many shouting ″No blood for oil,″ blocked streets in the downtown Loop district and marched into the building housing Amoco Corp. headquarters.
Some motorists honked their horns and flashed peace signs, although others appeared angered by the disruption. Some workers dropped paper from windows of office buildings and applauded the crowd.
In Detroit, police stormed a crowd of about 300 demonstrators in front of a military recruiting station, arresting at least 14 people, said James Younger, deputy police chief.
Protesters became unruly and blocked traffic, he said. One of the protesters said the crowd wasn’t out of hand.
″The crowd was real boisterous, but they weren’t doing anything to the police,″ said demonstrator George Bradford, 39, of Detroit. ″Then they came with batons and started grabbing people.″
In Washington, D.C., activist Dick Gregory and homeless advocate Carol Fennelly were arrested for demonstrating in a restricted area in front of the White House, U.S. Park Police said. Earlier Monday, Gregory, in the 54th day of a hunger fast, had taken a letter to the Iraqi Embassy calling for peace.
Across the street from the White House, a group of Ojibway Indians from Minnesota set up a ″peace drum″ and began pounding on it. Bea Swanson, an Ojibway from the White Earth Reservation, said the four Ojibways and five supporters will remain at Lafayette Park through Thursday.
Two people were arrested in Minneapolis, where an estimated 800 to 1,000 people blocked entrances to a federal office building, which houses military recruiting offices.
Police Lt. Joey Winslow said one arrest was for assaulting a police officer; the other was for burning an American flag. Protesters had burned the flag in a garbage bin and rolled the bin down the street.
Protesters chanted ″No blood for oil,″ ″Shut it down″ and ″We won’t kill for Texaco.″
But hopes that protest could forestall a war appeared to be fading. ″Death is coming. The die is cast,″ said one demonstrator, Jackie Heinie, who wore a mask of a skull over her face.
In a New York demonstration, about 500 young people, most from high schools, gathered in front of recruiting office in Times Square to chant for peace.
″I’m angry,″ 11-year-old Erlind Kelly said. ″My uncle’s probably going to die. For oil. Who cares about oil?″
The crowd grew to 1,000 by the time protesters marched about 28 blocks, disrupting traffic along the way.
At least 19 people were arrested and seven police officers suffered injuries, including one who was pushed off his motorcycle, said Detective Joseph McConville. It wasn’t immediately known if any of the injuries were serious.
Several hundred protesters disrupted the morning rush hour on the Golden Gate Bridge, which links San Francisco with its northern suburbs.
With signs saying ″Talks Not Tanks″ and ″How Much Blood To The Gallon?,″ protesters marched on pedestrian lanes on both sides of the bridge. Several jumped into traffic lanes, and at least two were arrested, said Don Gappa, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.
Bridge officials closed the span temporarily, and southbound traffic was backed for as much as 15 miles, Gappa said.
In Connecticut, participants in a ″relay fast″ sponsored by a group called Hartford Citizens for Peace grew to about 40. The relay, in which participants fast for 24 hours, began Jan. 6, said group spokesman Ramon Vega.
In Santa Rosa, Calif., demonstrators burned a wooden effigy of President Bush in a city intersection and several students staged a ″die-in″ by lying in intersections and blocking traffic.
Police said 20 people were arrested and cited with obstruction of traffic, a misdemeanor.
In all, there were more than a half-dozen demonstrations scheduled Monday in the San Francisco Bay area. There were at least four in New York City, including a candlelight vigil by children near the United Nations.
In a quieter New York setting, about 85 school children at St. John the Divine church gathered at a ″peace altar″ to pray and sing.
Demonstrators at virtually all the recent protest rallies have stressed their concern for the American soldiers stationed in the Persian Gulf. Still, three wives of U.S. servicemen in the gulf organized a rally in Jacksonville, N.C., that was aimed at supporting the troops. Jacksonville is the closest town to the Marine’s Camp Lejune.
″Anti-war protesters enjoy that freedom to protest, savor that freedom. But that freedom wasn’t won by protest. It was won through fighting,″ organizer Angie Downs told the 3,000 people at the rally.
Many in the crowd waved flags and most wore yellow ribbons. Some had pictures or names of their relatives in the Middle East pinned to their clothing or their signs.
The vast majority of demonstrations, however, were against U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf.
About 300 people marched down the main street of Portland, Maine, chanting, ″Hell no, we won’t go. We won’t fight for Texaco.″
In Montpelier, Vt., about two dozen people occupied U.S. Sen. James Jeffords’ district office to protest his vote in favor of the use of force. The group stayed in the office for about five hours, and left after speaking to Jeffords on the telephone.
In Harrisburg, Pa., about 25 people joined hands in a circle in the state Capitol rotunda and prayed for peace.
In Puyallup, Wash., just south of Tacoma, police were investigating the Sunday night firebombing of an Army National Guard recruiting station. Investigators said it wasn’t clear that the bombing was related to the Persian Gulf buildup.
The crude bomb, which was tossed through the front glass door of the recruiting office, didn’t start a fire and caused little damage.
In other demonstrations:
- Anti-war protesters marched in Fargo, N.D., and church bells across the state rang at noon.
- Led by three members who have sons in the Persian Gulf, the Indiana House approved a resolution calling for a peaceful end to the crisis.
- In Oklahoma City, protesters delivered a body bag to U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards’ office because of his vote in support of the resolution authorizing use of force.