Hundreds Arrested In Wide
US Anti-War Protests

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - More than 500 people were arrested in San Francisco on Thursday as thousands protested across the country to show the world that not every American supported the U.S. war against Iraq.
"If this was happening in every city, there would either be martial law or an end to war," said one Berkeley student who chained himself to 16 others on a major San Francisco street.
Protests took place in other cities across the United States as well as in European capitals. During morning rush hour in the Washington D.C., more than 100 demonstrators temporarily shut down the Key Bridge, a major route from Virginia into Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.
Three people were arrested there, but the rest dispersed peacefully after police asked them to leave, officers said.
More than 100 protesters later gathered in pouring rain on the streets by Lafayette Park near the White House.
"We're the youth of America and we're saying that we don't want this war in our name," said Peter Matthews, 17.
In New York, which took the brunt of the September 11, 2001 attack that President Bush has repeatedly cited as an example of the threat to America, "September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" condemned what they called an illegal and immoral U.S. war.
"We do not want other innocent families to suffer the trauma and grief that we have endured," the group said.
Many towns in America displayed support for the troops, albeit in a quieter way. Towns like Waxahachie, south of Dallas, put up yellow ribbons in support of U.S. troops.
Some yelled in other cities at the protesters.
"They are nothing but traitors. This does nothing but give aid and support to the enemy," said Debbie Petee in San Francisco, who said she supports the president.
Protesters across that nation said opposing war was not at odds with being an American patriot. "It's not like we're burning flags," said Danielle Geroux, a student at an anti-war rally at Florida's capital, Tallahassee. "We just don't want people to die."
Vietnam veteran Mike Ward, 56, who participated in protest marches in the 1960s, wore his combat ribbons in San Francisco so that no one would question his patriotism.
"If my grandson asks me 20 years from now what was happening, I want to tell him I was in the streets," said Ward, who was dressed in a black shirt with the words "Veterans for Peace" printed on the front. "The protests are the only resource we have because the politicians aren't listening."
Students gathered at campuses across the nation including at Harvard University, where hundreds walked out of classes at noon and at least 1,500 people gathered at a rally where speakers denounced the war.
Tensions ran especially high in San Francisco, where hundreds of police in riot gear fanned out to try to keep streets open. A police spokesman said they had filled several buses with arrested protesters and that the number detained would be in the hundreds. Some were kept in temporary pens erected on the street. Police estimated making 500 arrests on Thursday.
At the city's Federal Courthouse, at least two protesters took medicine that induced them to vomit. Some in the crowd flew Iraqi, Palestinian and French flags. In some areas, police charged protesters to carry them off one by one. Sparks flew as officials sawed through chains linking protesters. Buses and cars stalled in traffic.
A man who may have been protesting the war plunged to his death from the famed Golden Gate Bridge on Wednesday.
In Madison, Wisconsin, a traditional hotbed of protest, police investigated vandalism at the state Republican party headquarters on Wednesday night in which a half-dozen windows were broken and paint bombs were tossed around.
The war also clouded Sunday's upcoming Academy Awards. Actor Will Smith pulled out of Sunday's ceremony and other stars including Dustin Hoffman said they will wear peace sign pins, doves and even duct tape to protest the war in Iraq.
More than 100,000 protested in Germany. In London, thousands of British anti-war campaigners blocked roads and scuffled with police. More than 10,000 people, mostly students, surged through Paris chanting anti-war slogans and some burned the U.S. flag.
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