Monday, May 01, 2006

Tens of Thousands in New York March Against Iraq War

The New York Times
Tens of Thousands in New York March Against Iraq War

Thousands of people marched through Lower Manhattan yesterday to demand America's withdrawal from Iraq, the latest in a series of antiwar protests held in New York City and around the country during the past several months.

The march came a day after the State Department reported that insurgent attacks on civilians in Iraq surged last year, accounting for nearly half of the people killed in terrorism attacks across the world. It also came near the end of the deadliest month for American forces in Iraq since last November.

"I don't think the message has really changed, but the magnitude of the participation has grown," said Donald Morrill, 50, a college professor who journeyed from Florida to take part in the demonstration.

Several local politicians participated, notably the Rev. Al Sharpton, and some national figures, too, including Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq and who has become a symbol of the antiwar movement.

Yesterday's protest drew added urgency from the administration's recent saber rattling over Iran, and signs opposing possible United States military action there were almost as common as those urging a withdrawal from Iraq. But as at previous Iraq-related protests, yesterday's demonstration encompassed an array of causes, from immigrants' rights to low-cost housing.

Mark Hallinan, 47, a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on the Upper East Side, led a group of about a dozen people from his parish under the auspices of Pax Christi, a lay Catholic peace organization.

"We've seen the impact in so many ways," Father Hallinan said. "It's taking away money for education, for balancing the budget."

For others marching, the mere fact that the United States remained in Iraq was reason enough to protest, said Laurie Goodstein, a physician from Manhattan. Dr. Goodstein said she was meeting her parents — both in their 80's — at the march's end. "They've been going to protests all their lives," she joked, "but now they're too old to walk all the way."

Yesterday's demonstration began on Broadway, north of Union Square, where thousands of protesters of all ages gathered between 17th and 23rd Streets. About half past noon, they lurched into motion, heading south toward Foley Square near City Hall.

One group carried a daisy chain of hundreds of pictures of United States troops who died in Iraq, strung out over many blocks; others waved signs, slapped drums or simply enjoyed the pleasant weather.

By 2 p.m., the protesters' vanguard had reached Foley Square, but the rear of the column still stretched more than a mile back.

The participating groups — led by United for Peace and Justice, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the National Organization for Women — set up more than a dozen tents in Foley Square, where T-shirts, pamphlets and petitions were distributed.

"We're here to deliver a message to the rest of the world that there are still Americans who strongly oppose these policies," said Daniel Einbender, 56, a musician and environmental educator from Wurtsboro, N.Y. "Someone asked me if I did it for love. I'm from the 60's, I'm one of those guys. I'm doing it out of habit. But it's a good habit."