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2003-03-24

Millions Protest Around the World, Hundreds of Thousands Protest in NYC

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Millions of people around the world participated in demonstrations against the war this weekend. Some of the largest protests were staged in the United States.

In New York, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. Marchers filled a 30-block long stretch of Broadway, sidewalk to sidewalk, for four hours. Demonstrators said police used pepper spray and 90 arrests were made. Police report that 13 officers were treated after being sprayed with an unknown substance.

Nearly 20,000 people picketed outside CNN’s studios in Los Angeles and Atlanta, protesting the network’s coverage of the war for its bias towards the United States-led invasion.

And on Sunday night, anti-war protestors gathered outside the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles where the Oscar ceremonies were held.

Tens of thousands of people protested over the weekend in San Francisco. The city, which is already struggling with a $350 million budget shortfall claims the protests are costing the city more than $900,000 a day. Spokespeople for the anti-war coalition International Action said the city should send the bill to the White House. More than 2,000 people have been arrested in anti-war demonstration there since the invasion began.

Veterans Against the Iraq War kicked off "Operation Dire Distress" with a conference in Washington on Saturday and a march on the Mall on Sunday. The group condemned the war in a statement that read (in part) "The present administration is led by men and women who chose not to go into the military and today have little understanding of war and no comprehension of its consequences."

Protests also took place in Seattle, Chicago and other US cities.

In San Juan Puerto Rico, thousands- including the city’s Archbishop and several Korean War Veterans- demonstrated against the war.

In Baghdad, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens protested the war and the policies of the invading countries claiming to liberate them.

Demonstrations were held throughout Britain over the weekend. Half a million people turned out in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday according to the Stop The War Coalition. Police put the estimate lower at around 200,000. Marches were held at U.S. Military bases in Gloucester and Yorkshire. Several thousand people also marched in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester among other cities.

Nearly a million people across Spain marched against the war. Fifty people were injured during protests in Madrid where riot police fought back protestors with rubber bullets.

In Germany, there was a march on the U.S. Armies European command in Stuttgart.

Thousands of Italians marched on a NATO air base- while in Rome, activists draped a large black banner across the Coliseum: a gesture of mourning for the victims of the war. At least 25,000 people protested the war in Amsterdam and 6,000-plus protested outside embassies in Brussels.

Police and small numbers of "black bloc" protestors fought during a mostly peaceful demonstration of some 40,000 people in Berne, Switzerland.

40,000 Australians participated in the fourth day on protests in Sydney. The protest began with a prayer service by the city’s Anglican Dean, Phillip Jensen, who called war "hellish in its horror and destruction "and hellish in its suffering."

More than 100,000 people demonstrated in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. The Guardian reports many protestors there carried pictures of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and chanted "Kill America! Kill America!" The government in Pakistan, which has supported the Washington’s "War on Terror", said it "deplored" the use of force in Iraq.

Protestors burnt an Effigy of President Bush outside the U.S. mission in Jakarta. 8,000 people marched in Malaysia. 3,000 people gathered in Seoul- the Capital of South Korea- to their government’s decision to send up-to-700 non-combatant troops to assist the war.

The U.S. shut its embassies in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Protests were held throughout the African continent in cities like Mombassa and Mogadishu in Somalia.

1,000 people demonstrated outside the World Cup Cricket finals in Johannesburg.

Hundreds of riot police watched 5,000 students from Al-Azhar University in Cairo protest the war.

We go now to the streets of New York City. At the beginning of the march, I had a chance to interview actor Ossie Davis, who is also a veteran of WWII.

  • Ossie Davis, actor and veteran of WWII, interviewed in Herald Square on March 22, 2003.

We go now to sound from the end of the march, recorded by Democracy Now! senior producer Kris Abrams. After marching for 30 blocks, protesters were greeted by a white police van parked at the Northwest corner of the park. It blared over and over a recorded message telling people to leave. Then, as protesters milled around, police in riot gear marched toward them in formation and tried to clear the streets. People responded by pulling together defiantly and sitting down in the street.

  • Sounds from street, NYC, March 22, 2003.

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