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Thousands protest Iraq war across the U.S.

November 11, 2005 | Page 11

THOUSANDS OF antiwar activists turned out across the country last week to mark the first anniversary of George W. Bush's re-election--and to oppose the continued occupation of Iraq, the government's response to Hurricane Katrina and other policies of the Bush administration.

The protests coincided with the call for the November 2 "World Can't Wait: Drive Out the Bush Regime" protest. In dozens of cities, students walked out of classes and activists gathered for rallies, marches and speak-outs.

-- In San Francisco, 2,000 people rallied outside City Hall. Nearly half were students from Bay Area high schools, including Mission, Oakland and Berkeley Highs. Speakers included city supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly, Code Pink organizer Medea Benjamin and state senator Carole Migden.

Cindy Sheehan called on the crowd to stand up to the Bush administration--and also the Democratic supporters of the war in Congress. Later, during a march along Mission Street, nine protesters were arrested for blocking traffic during a "die-in."

-- In New York City, thousands gathered in Union Square and marched to Times Square. According to reports, 70 students from high schools on Long Island received three-day suspensions for leaving school to participate in the march.

At Columbia University, about 70 people gathered for a speak-out. Three women from New Orleans, who were displaced by Katrina, spoke. One read a letter from her mother, describing about how insurance companies are denying every homeowner's insurance claim coming out of New Orleans.

After the speak-out, students made the short trip to Hunter College, where the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) had organized an action to protest military recruiters at a career fair. While Hunter students went inside to confront recruiters, about 50 students from about 10 different schools chanted outside: "Killing Iraqis is no career, recruiters are not welcome here!" Later that evening, CAN students held an antiwar teach-in at Columbia.

-- In Los Angeles, as many as 1,500 people turned out for rallies at eight intersections along Wilshire Boulevard. Speakers and performers included human rights activist Bianca Jagger, jazz artist Rickie Lee Jones and Culture Clash, a leading Chicano/Latino theater and comedy troupe.

Iraq veterans Robert Acosta, Joe Lopez and Anthony Mantel also spoke out against the war. "We need a stronger antiwar movement and [active] soldiers need to get involved," Acosta said. Lopez proclaimed, "Nothing is going to stop this war but us."

-- In Chicago, approximately 1,500 turned out for a rally in Federal Plaza and a 20-block march through downtown. Largely composed of high school and college students who had walked out of class, the peaceful crowd had to contend with large numbers of riot police. Speakers included Gold Star Families for Peace activist Juan Torres, who spoke of his son John's death in Afghanistan just days before he was scheduled to return home in 2004.

-- In Seattle, more than 1,000 students walked out from about 30 different schools, including high schools, middle schools and local colleges to protest military recruiting on local campuses and the war. Students turned out in large numbers, despite the fact that some were faced with threats of suspension from administrators. Eventually, the crowd swelled to as many as 2,000 people for a rally at the Westlake Center in downtown Seattle, at the city's federal courthouse.

-- In Austin, Texas, about 200 people gathered at the State Capitol. Protesters later marched to the University of Texas campus, at one point, with a group of construction workers cheering them on.

-- Protesters took to the streets in smaller cities, too. In Boone, N.C., approximately 75 people turned out to march. In Greensboro, N.C., another 75 marched--to the beat of a local drum corps. The Campus Antiwar Network chapter at Greensboro, N.C. kicked off an anti-recruiter petition campaign, collecting some 50 signatures to get the military off campus.

And in Toledo, Ohio, 75 people participated in a rally and march sponsored by University of Toledo (UT) AntiWar--a group affiliated with CAN. Speakers talked about the urgency of rebuilding the antiwar movement. Following a march through campus, the vocal and lively crowd ended at a ROTC station that students want removed from campus. Students and faculty reported that this was the largest political demonstration the UT campus had seen in years.

Jeremy Atkinson, Todd Chretien, Patrick Dyer, Vicky Jambor, Ben Lassiter, Alison McKenna and Zachary Zill contributed to this report.

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