Opponents of Iraq war call for bringing the troops home

Sunday, September 25, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Opponents of the war in Iraq marched Saturday in a clamorous day of protest, song and remembrance of the dead, some showing surprisingly diverse political views even as they spoke with one loud voice in wanting U.S. troops home.

The surging crowd, shouting "Bush out now" and "Peace now," marched in front of the White House and then to the Washington Monument in an 11-hour marathon of dissent.

They were young people with green hair, nuns whose anti-war activism dates to Vietnam, parents mourning their children in uniform lost in Iraq, and uncountable families motivated for the first time to protest.

President Bush himself was out of town, monitoring hurricane recovery efforts from Colorado and Texas. The protesters shouted for his impeachment.

The other side

A few hundred people in a counterdemonstration in support of Bush's Iraq policy lined the protest route near the FBI building. The two groups shouted at each other, with a police line keeping them apart.

Ramsey said the day's protest unfolded peacefully under the heavy police presence. "They're vocal but not violent," he said.

While united against the war, political beliefs varied. Paul Rutherford, 60, of Vandalia, Mich., said he is a Republican who supported Bush in the last election and still does -- except for the war.

"President Bush needs to admit he made a mistake in the war and bring the troops home, and let's move on," Rutherford said. His wife, Judy, 58, called the removal of Saddam Hussein "a noble mission" but said U.S. troops should have left when claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction proved unfounded.

A happy medium?

Arthur Pollock, 47, of Cecil County, Md., said he was against the war from the beginning. He wants the soldiers out, but not all at once.

"They've got to leave slowly," said Pollock. "It will be utter chaos in that country if we pull them out all at once."

From the stage, though, the speeches were hard-edged and critical of Bush on far more fronts than Iraq. Groups representing a bazaar of causes attacked administration policies on the poor, on hurricane response, on the Cuban embargo and much more.

Supporters of Bush's policy in Iraq assembled in smaller numbers to get their voices heard in the day's anti-war din. About 150 of them rallied at the U.S. Navy Memorial.

Gary Qualls, 48, of Temple, Texas, whose Marine reservist son, Louis, died last year in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, asked: "If you bring them home now, who's going to be responsible for all the atrocities that are fixing to happen over there? Cindy Sheehan?"

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