Protesters fill National Mall


Jeremy Fugleberg And Michelle Herrick

Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in Washington, D.C. Saturday in what they called a “March on Washington.”

The largely peaceful gathering that was organized by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) attracted opponents and supporters for the the potential war in Iraq.

Signs that read “Impeach Bush? Is this worse than oral sex?” and “Iraqi oil isn’t worth my son’s blood” were plastered on homemade posters as protesters marched from Washington Monument to the White House.

Messages ranging from feminism to Native American issues to the environment and Israel, but all coming back to Iraq were echoed on the rally stage. Guest speakers included former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Joslyn Williams President of the D.C. Central Labor Council, Susan Sarandon, Rep. Don Conyers (D-MI) and Gene Bruskin U.S. Labor Against the War.

“We will march, protest, picket nonviolently until this has ended,” Conyers said. “We need a regime change in the United States.”

Protesters were as varied as their message with convening groups of veterans, nurses, doctors, Christians, Muslims, students and professors. Even small children waved signs and called for peace.

“I guess I agree with all this,” said Michael Ricipoppo, 23, from Virginia as he waved a lazy hand toward the stage.

Dale Richardson, a Vietnam veteran from Michigan, escorted a group of high school students to the rally.”Many of these kids are second generation war protesters,” Richardson said. “These kids are worried about what they will have to do (if they get drafted).”

Joseph, who didn’t give his last name, is a long time Washington, D.C. resident and World War II veteran.

“We’ve seen the whole range from peaceable on up,” he said as he watched the younger protesters. “But you can’t bomb anyone into peace.”

One instance of violence occurred when a group of protesters broke into World Bank headquarters. Six were arrested for unlawful entry; the others smashed a window to escape, according to the Associated Press.

In another incident, several teenage activists declared a snow fence surrounding the monument to be an obstacle to unity. After the teens tore down part of the fence, a man in a green trench coat carrying a “Veterans for peace” sign stopped one of the teens and lectured him on the true purpose of the rally: Peace.People protested worldwide with demonstrations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In addition, protesters rallied nationwide in West Virginia, California and Michigan.

Several anti-war groups headed up by the Stop the War Coalition are planning demonstrations if war breaks out.

Other signs at the rally read “Stop Mad Cowboy Disease,” “Regime change begins at home” and “Support our troops – bring them home.”

Information and photos for this story were gathered first-hand by members of the SDSU Journalism Club touring Washington, D.C., at the time of the protest.

#1.887194:3929525501.jpg:world.jpg:Protesters wave flags and hold signs advocating world peace. The group, numbering in the tens of thousands, met at the Washington Monument for a march on the White House.:Jeremy Fugleberg#1.887193:4047171336.jpg:uckbush.jpg:A protester holds up a sign expressing how he feels about the nation?s leadership. He was one of an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 protesters that rallied in Washington, D.C. March 15.:Jeremy Fugleberg#1.887192:3212258852.jpg:sdfsafd.jpg:Placards await protesters on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. March 15. Slogans encouraging peace and challenging current U.S. policy toward Iraq were part of the largely peaceful demonstration organized primarily by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism). :Kenzie Oswald