NEW YORK, Oct 7: From California to New York, tens of thousands of Americans came out on the streets on Sunday to protest against possible US attacks on Iraq.
As the Bush administration whipped up the anti-Saddam Hussein war rhetoric, the opinion polls in the United States are telling the Republican administration that they don’t want any preemptive strike against Iraq.
About 50,000 protesters gathered in New York City’s Central Park demonstrated at a rally organized by a group called “Not In Our Name.”
A range of people from almost every ethnic group, young and old, including several US war veterans recited a “Pledge of Resistance” saying in part that “not in our name will you wage endless war, not in our name will you invade countries, bomb civilians, kill more children.”
Several protesters carried anti-war placards and shouted slogans against the Bush administration for dragging the country towards a war which was not necessary. Many said in interviews: “We think Saddam is dangerous but President Bush is more dangerous”.
The rally was one of a series planned across the country on Sunday including protests in Anchorage, Alaska, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, Colorado.
Speakers, in the New York rally asked the protesters to put pressure on their congressional representatives to oppose US President George W. Bush’s quest for the all-clear to wage war with the aim of toppling the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Bush is due to make his case for possible military action against Iraq, which he claims has developed weapons of mass destruction and poses a grave danger, in a nationally televised speech on Monday night.
In San Francisco protesters jammed Union Square and a lively demonstration also took place at the Federal Building in west Los Angeles, news reports said.
In Los Angeles, an estimated 13,000 demonstrators marched outside the Federal Building in Westwood.
“People consider this a critical time,” Steve Rohde, a lawyer who represents the non-profit coalition group told reporters. The protest was set to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the US bombing of Afghanistan, Rohde said.
“This coalition is very concerned about the assault on civil liberties, the detention and holding of American citizens, as well as non-citizens without lawyers,” Rohde said.
Many protesters at the rally painted their faces with the peace symbol and others carried signs that read: ‘Make sense not War,” and ‘War is not the Answer.”
In San Francisco, marchers used a thesaurus of adjectives to describe their disenchantment, calling the president a ‘warmonger,” “racist,” “irresponsible,” and ‘stoopid.”
Women in designer jeans and high-heeled shoes marched next to students in tie-dyed T-shirts and Birkenstocks. The driver of a cable car surrounded by the throng clanged his bell in time to pulsating reggae music, joined by the honking of do-
zens of trapped taxis said one report.
But for President Bush, the question seemed to be not if, but when, to wage war against Iraq. Stumping in Manchester, for Senate candidate John Sununu, Bush didn’t mention the 50 demonstrators protesting outside, or the gatherings around the country. But he reiterated his stance that the United States must disarm Iraq to protect American lives.
In his weekend radio address, Bush urged Congress to give him authority to remove Saddam and deal quickly with Iraq’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. Nevertheless the demonstrators appealed for restraint before the United States enters another war.
San Francisco police added several dozen officers to handle the crowd, which was feisty but peaceful, waving their signs before a backdrop of Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co., Levi’s and Macy’s.
“This is a country full of people that won’t let the government start this immoral war in our name,” rally organizer Tanya Mayo yelled from a stage swathed in peace banners, blue balloons and the names of victims of past wars.
Meanwhile, opinion polls show that a solid majority of Americans believe President Bush should give UN weapons inspectors time to act and should wait for support from allies before invading Iraq.