Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thousands in New York march against war

Ella Mattson, 3, of New York carries a U.S. flag with a peace sign as she marches in an anti-war rally.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters marched Saturday through Manhattan to demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq just hours after an American soldier died in a roadside explosion in Baghdad -- the 70th U.S. fighter killed in that country this month.

"End this war, bring the troops home," read one of the many signs lifted by marchers on a sunny afternoon three years after the war in Iraq began. The mother of a Marine killed two years ago in Iraq held a picture of her son, born in 1984 and killed 20 years later.

Cindy Sheehan, a vociferous critic of the war whose 24-year-old soldier son also died in Iraq, joined in the march, as did actress Susan Sarandon and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. One group marched under the banner "Veterans for Peace," while other marchers came from as far off as Maryland and Vermont. (Watch as anti-war speeches are made to the crowd -- :46)

The demonstrators stretched for about 10 city blocks as they headed down Broadway. A police spokesman declined to give an estimate of the size of the crowd, although organizers claimed there were 300,000 people. There were no arrests.

"We are here today because the war is illegal, immoral and unethical," said the Rev. Al Sharpton. "We must bring the troops home."

Along with their call for the return of the troops from Iraq, organizers said, the march was meant to express opposition to any military action against Iran. The event was organized by the group United for Peace and Justice.

"We've been lied to, and they're going to lie to us again to bring us a war in Iran," said Marjori Ramos, 43, of Staten Island. "I'm here because I had a lot of anger, and I had to do something."

Steve Rand, an English teacher from Waterbury, Vermont, held a poster announcing, "Vermont Says No to War."

"I'd like to see our troops come home," he said.

The march stepped off shortly after noon from Union Square, with the demonstrators heading to downtown Manhattan for a rally at Foley Square -- between the U.S. courthouse and a federal office building.

The death toll in Iraq for April was the highest for a single month in 2006 before Saturday's fatality. At least 2,399 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began.

Although that figure is well below some of the bloodiest months of the Iraq conflict, it marks a sharp increase over March, when 31 American service members were killed. January's death toll stood at 62 and February's at 55. In December 2005, 68 Americans died.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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