Protesters Mark War Anniversary With a March

WASHINGTON -- Thousands took the streets of Washington and Northern Virginia Saturday to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan about six years after the start of the Iraqi War.

Before war protesters ended their demonstration Saturday afternoon, several placed cardboard coffins in front of the offices of northern Virginia defense contractors such as KBR Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. as riot police stood by.

"Lockheed Martin you can't hide, we charge you with genocide!" they chanted as part of a demonstration that began in Washington to mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

There were 2,500 to 3,000 protesters, estimated Arlington County, Va., authorities.

More than 1,000 groups sponsored the protest to call for an end to the Iraq war, said organizers from the ANSWER Coalition.

Protesters carried "We need jobs and schools, not war" and "Indict Bush" signs. And, demonstrators beat drums and played trumpets as they marched from near the Lincoln Memorial past the Pentagon and into Virginia.

Protesters demanded that President Barack Obama immediately withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq, saying thousands of Iraqis have died and thousands of American troops have been wounded or killed.

"We think it's especially important for this new administration to feel the pressure from people that we don't want more war," said Obama supporter Pat Halle, 59, of Baltimore.

Even though former President George W. Bush is out of power, they are disappointed with what they see as stalled action from Obama, said Anti-war activists.

"Obama seems to be led somewhat by the bureaucracies. I want him to follow up on his promise to end the war," said 66-year-old Perry Parks of Rockingham, N.C., who said he served in the Army for nearly 30 years, including in Vietnam.

Obama has said he plans to withdraw roughly 100,000 troops by summer 2010. He promises to pull the last of the U.S. troops by the end of 2011, in accordance with a deal Iraqis signed with Bush.

There were about 138,000 troops in Iraq as of March 13.

There were also anti-war marches expected in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

No arrests were made, said U.S. Park Police. However, there sometimes was commotion among activists.

At one point during the demonstration in Virginia, some taunted police while others urged their fellow protesters not to bother authorities. Some protesters then began arguing among themselves.

This year, the protest in Washington was held on a weekend -- a few days after the March 19 anniversary of the war, which began in 2003. Last year's weekday protest was marked by lower turnout than in previous years.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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