Activists protest decision to send more troops
BOSTON -- Activists angered by President Bush's decision to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq staged protests Thursday from New York to San Francisco, declaring that the extra troops would only give insurgents thousands of new American targets.
Hundreds of anti-war protesters crammed onto a traffic island in New York's Times Square, chanting "Stop the funding, stop the war" as drivers in one of the world's most famous intersections honked in support. Some held signs depicting the president as a monkey. Others sold buttons that said "Peace."
Pat De Angelis, of Manhattan, said Bush's plan to add more troops would be counterproductive to peace in the Mideast.
"In times of trouble, like the time we are in now, it helps to feel like you are doing something to right the wrongs," she said.
Tony Palladino of Queens, who identified himself as a former Air National Guardsman, protested in Lower Manhattan's Foley Square with a pair of anti-war signs. He said Bush's decision to send more troops would just give insurgents "20,000 extra targets."
Rallies were also planned in Boston, California and other cities.
In Times Square, a band of pro-war protesters on the other end of the island yelled for passers-by to ignore the anti-war rally.
The group held a large sign that said "Warning -- Leftist protesters trying to demoralize our troops."
"They say they are supporting our troops but they are lying," said Pamela Hall, a member of the United American Committee. "You can't support someone if you don't support what they are doing. It's disrespectful."
Anti-war activists have marshaled more than 100,000 protesters at U.S. rallies on a few occasions since the run-up to the invasion. But the vast majority have been far smaller than those of the Vietnam era.
Anti-war groups and scholars say that's because the draft has been eliminated and because protesters appear more willing to work within the political system -- a sharp contrast from the 1960s, when many protesters regarded the system as corrupt.
Thursday's protests were cast as a prelude to a bigger gathering starting Jan. 27 in Washington, where demonstrators plan to urge Congress to stand up to Bush, said Hany Khalil, a spokesman of United for Peace and Justice.
Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Samantha Gross in New York contributed to this report.