Sunday, September 25, 2005

Thousands protest Iraq war, globalization

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 100,000 protesters flooded Washington on Saturday to stage dual demonstrations against the U.S.-led war in Iraq and economic globalization, before coming together to demand President George W. Bush bring troops home.

"We need a people's movement to end this war," said Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war protester whose son was killed in fighting in Iraq. Camping out in Crawford, Texas, during much of August while Bush was vacationing there, Sheehan's rallies drew crowds there that sometimes numbered in the hundreds as she demanded a meeting with Bush.

Bush, who met with Sheehan in 2004 after her son was killed, refused to meet with her again.

"We'll be the checks and balances on this out-of-control criminal government," Sheehan, who has become the anti-war movement's best-known face, told the group gathered at the Ellipse, a park behind the White House.

In Los Angeles, about 15,000 people protested peacefully, while thousands more marched in San Francisco and in London urging an end to military action in Iraq nearly 30 months after an invasion ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The crowds in Washington swelled through the day, and by late afternoon organizers of the anti-war demonstration said 300,000 people had assembled -- exceeding an anticipated 100,000. Washington police declined to comment on the size of the rally.

Meanwhile, 1,000 to 3,000 people, as estimated by demonstration organizers, gathered a few blocks away to protest the autumn meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, saying policies that promote globalization and reduce trade barriers hurt the world's poor.

CIRCLING THE WHITE HOUSE

Many of them joined the anti-war march that circled a wide swath of downtown Washington, including the White House. They walked slowly, and often silently, and carried a blocks-long string of pictures of the 1,900 U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq.

"We're here to bring a dose of reality to the American public," said Chad Hetman, a member of an anti-war veterans' group. "This war was based on lies."


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