WASHINGTON - Convinced this is
their moment, tens of thousands marched Saturday in an anti-war demonstration
linking military families, ordinary people and an icon of the Vietnam protest
movement in a spirited call to get out of Iraq.
Demonstrators call on Congress to
impeach US President George W. Bush and to end the war in Iraq as
thousands of anti-war protesters march around the US Capitol in
Washington, January 27, 2007. [Reuters]
Celebrities, a half-dozen lawmakers and protesters from distant states
rallied in the capital under a sunny sky, seizing an opportunity to press their
cause with a Congress restive on the war and a country that has turned against
Marching with them was Jane Fonda, in what she said was her first anti-war
demonstration in 34 years.
"Silence is no longer an option," Fonda said to cheers from the stage on the
National Mall. The actress once derided as "Hanoi Jane" by conservatives for her
stance on Vietnam said she had held back from activism so as not to be a
distraction for the Iraq anti-war movement, but needed to speak out now.
The rally on the Mall unfolded peacefully, although about 300 protesters
tried to rush the Capitol, running up the grassy lawn to the front of the
building. Police on motorcycles tried to stop them, scuffling with some and
Protesters chanted "Our Congress" as their numbers grew and police faced off
against them. Demonstrators later joined the masses marching from the Mall,
around Capitol Hill and back.
About 50 demonstrators blocked a street near the Capitol for about 30
minutes, but they were dispersed without arrests.
United for Peace and Justice, a coalition group sponsoring the protest, had
hoped 100,000 would come. They claimed even more afterward, but police, who no
longer give official estimates, said privately the crowd was smaller than
In California, smaller rallies were held in San Francisco, Los Angeles and
At the rally, 12-year-old Moriah Arnold stood on her toes to reach the
microphone and tell the crowd: "Now we know our leaders either lied to us or hid
the truth. Because of our actions, the rest of the world sees us as a bully and
The sixth-grader from Harvard, Mass., organized a petition drive at her
school against the war that has killed more than 3,000 US service-members,
including seven whose deaths were reported Saturday.
More Hollywood celebrities showed up at the demonstration than buttoned-down
Washington typically sees in a month.
Actor Sean Penn said lawmakers will pay a price in the 2008 elections if they
do not take firmer action than to pass a nonbinding resolution against the war,
the course Congress is now taking.
"If they don't stand up and make a resolution as binding as the death toll,
we're not going to be behind those politicians," he said. Actors Susan Sarandon
and Tim Robbins also spoke.
Fonda was a lightning rod in the Vietnam era for her outspoken opposition to
that war and her advocacy from Hanoi at the height of that conflict. Sensitive
to the old wounds, she made it a point to thank the active-duty service-members,
veterans and Gold Star mothers who attended the rally.
She drew parallels to the Vietnam War, citing "blindness to realities on the
ground, hubris ... thoughtlessness in our approach to rebuilding a country we've
destroyed." But she noted that this time, veterans, soldiers and their families
increasingly and vocally are against the Iraq war.