Hundreds Arrested in Anti-War Demonstrations
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Police in riot gear pulled protesters from a human chain outside a federal office building and arrested more than 400 people Tuesday in one of the largest of many anti-war protests around the nation.
At one point, San Francisco police used Chemical Mace and riot batons to push demonstrators out of a downtown intersection.
Elsewhere, anti-war protesters gathered at the White House, the United Nations, on college campuses and at other federal buildings in a last-ditch effort to persuade President Bush not to attack Iraq.
″I think there should be millions of people here. Nobody should sit home and say its OK to go to war,″ said Chuck Nevin, one of the demonstrators in San Francisco.
The demonstration began around 6 a.m. when people began gathering around the 20-story Federal Building. Organizers put the crowd at 10,000 at its peak, but journalists estimated the attendance at about 3,000.
The protesters kept workers from entering the building. They carried signs saying ″Suppose Broccoli was Kuwait’s Largest Export″ and ″No Blood for Oil.″ Forty of them zipped themselves in body bags in front of the building.
The protesters relinquished the building by early afternoon, and about 2,000 people began a spontaneous march through the city.
Protesters resisted arrest at the main entrance by clinging fiercely to one another as federal police pulled them apart and restrained their hands in plastic cuffs. Remaining protesters sat on the portico singing John Lennon’s ″Give Peace A Chance″ as police continued to make arrests.
Federal authorities arrested 407 people, most of whom were charged with blocking an entrance, said Joseph Loerzel, chief operations officer for the Federal Protective Service.
San Francisco police arrested about 50 people, including break-away protesters who blocked a busy intersection a block from the Federal Building. City police used Mace and clubs to move the protesters out of the intersection.
Several hours later, about 350 protesters walked up ramps onto the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and blocked pre-rush hour traffic before about 50 surrendered for arrest and the crowd began breaking up, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Don Gappa.
In New York City, more than 5,000 people gathered outside the United Nations for a demonstration sponsored by the African American Coalition Against U.S. Intervention. At least 30 protesters were arrested for blocking traffic and disorderly conduct, police said.
Earlier, a small group of anti-war demonstrators tried to enter the Riverside Research Center, a defense contractor, and 19 were arrested for trespassing, police said.
In Boston, three windows were broken at the John F. Kennedy Federal Building during an anti-war demonstration, and one protester was arrested.
In Washington, National Park Service police arrested 55 young people who sat on the sidewalk in front of the White House. They were later released without charges.
As the midnight deadline came and went, about 1,500 demonstrators flocked to the White House. President Bush may have been asleep as his spokesman predicted, but there were no press officers on duty to say so.
In Eugene, Ore., 51 people, including 15 juveniles, were arrested for blocking the entrance to a federal building during a demonstration that drew 1,100 to 1,500 protesters.
More than 100 people gathered in downtown Chicago for an anti-war rally in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday was Tuesday. About 150 Chicago high school students skipped classes and ran more than three miles through city streets in a loosely organized expression of anti-war sentiment.
Also in Chicago, 200 to 300 people blocked traffic during the evening rush hour at several downtown intersections. At least 36 people were arrested citywide, police said.
In Olympia, Wash., about 3,000 people surged into the state Capitol building to demand that lawmakers pass a resolution condemning U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, authorities said. There were no arrests and 50 protesters were told they could spend the night in the House chambers.
In Atlanta, civil rights leaders led more than 1,000 marchers through the streets in remembrance of King and in protest of a possible war.
In Berkeley, Calif., about 500 high school students left class and demonstrated peacefully in Civic Center Park.
About 70 people demonstrated peacefully outside a federal office building in St. Louis; 300 outside a federal building in Portland, Ore.
College students demonstrated on some campuses. A rally by minority students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor drew more than 600 people.
″People are really scared, to put it bluntly,″ said Michigan Student Assembly President Jennifer Van Valey. She said students understand why the nation is going to war ″and realize it’s silly - to protect oil interests.″
Some people prayed for peace. At Providence College in Providence, R.I., classes were canceled at 10:30 a.m. so students could attend a prayer session. Public school students in New York City paused for a ″moment of reflection″ at 10 a.m. at the request of Schools Chancellor Joseph Fernandez.
Demonstrators in many places made clear that they do not have any quarrel with American troops.
″We do support our troops. We do support our people over there,″ said Gail Schoenbacher, who organized a midday anti-war protest that drew about 200 people in downtown Raleigh, N.C. ″But we do not support this war. We want to bring them home alive.″