October 26, 2003, Sunday Late Edition - Final

Section 1 Page 18 Column 5 Desk: National Desk Length: 693 words




Demonstrators Demand U.S. Withdraw Troops From Iraq


By ERIC LICHTBLAU; Carolyn Marshall in San Francisco and ChrisDixon in Laguna Beach contributed to this article.




In the largest antiwar demonstration since President Bush declaredan end to active combat in Baghdad, more than 10,000 people marchedthrough the streets of the capital on Saturday to demand thewithdrawal of American troops from Iraq.


Many of the same people gathered here months ago to urge the WhiteHouse not to go to war. The demonstrators reassembled here in theshadow of the Washington Monument to let the president know theyremain deeply opposed to the military's continued presence in Iraq.





''Don't give Bush 87 billion dollars -- don't give him 87 cents,''implored the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Democratic candidate for president,referring to the administration's spending plan for military aid andreconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. ''Give our troops a ridehome.''


The demonstration borrowed heavily from the imagery of 1960'speace protests over Vietnam, as young people in tie-dyed shirts andbandanas waved placards bearing peace signs and exhorted the WhiteHouse to ''make love, not war.''


The Bush administration has made clear that it has no intention ofpulling out of Iraq and that it is working to secure billions ofdollars in international support for the Iraqi reconstruction effort.In recent weeks, the administration also has begun an aggressiveeffort to turn around rising public concerns about Iraq bypublicizing positive strides it says the media has failed to report.


''The president respects the opinion of those who protest andexercise their democratic rights,'' Jimmy Orr, a White Housespokesman, said on Saturday of the demonstrators. But he added that''the president has been very clear about the reasons for ourinvolvement and the need to protect our country.''


Organizers in Washington said that 100,000 people took part in therally. But a close inspection put the number who marched past theWhite House at about 10,000 to 15,000 people, with about 200 to 300demonstrators a minute passing an observation point during themarch's half-hour peak. The police gave no official crowd count butnoted that the permits for the event anticipated a crowd of about35,000 demonstrators.


Organizers in Washington said that more than 150 cities wererepresented at the demonstration. Joint protests also were held inseveral dozen cities in the United States, Mexico and Europe.


In San Francisco, organizers estimated several thousand protesterscame to the plaza near City Hall and then marched to Jefferson SquarePark.


Marchers in the decidedly mature San Francisco crowd said thatunlike earlier ''stop the war'' rallies, the focus had now turned tobringing troops home. Amid placards reading ''No Blood for Oil'' weresigns with the latest antiwar sentiments: ''Bring Them Home Alive.''


That was the message on a black and white poster carried by PaulShumett of Palo Alto. Mr. Shumett, 56, said: ''They said the war wasover but more people are being killed now than before. This war waswrong from the beginning. It seemed a Hatfield versus McCoy war, likea family feud so President Bush could vindicate his father.''


Also on Saturday, in Oceanside, Calif., an estimated 10,000marines and sailors from the First Marine Expeditionary Force marchedin the Defenders of Freedom parade, which honored troops who foughtin Iraq. Area news organizations estimated that 80,000 people watchedthe parade.


Steven Jepsen, city manager of Oceanside, said the parade was thelargest to ever pass through the city.


''It was really emotional for the people up there,'' he said.''This was one of those parades that for the kids here who were 10 or12 years old, they'll look back and remember this when they're 50.''


Elden Montagne, 21, who traveled to Washington from Vermont with acouple of friends, was making memories of a different sort.


''It's just cool when people come together like this,'' he said ofthe antiwar demonstration. ''It shows the rest of the world thatwe're thinking about this stuff and not just going along with it.''