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Symbolic Coffins Mark Anti-War Protests in Washington

Protesters carried symbolic coffins to mark their opposition to U.S. military action.
Protesters carried symbolic coffins to mark their opposition to U.S. military action.


Nico Colombant

Several days of anti-war activities in Washington have culminated with the procession of symbolic coffins across the streets of the capital.  Many demonstrators said they had supported President Barack Obama in his election in 2008,  but were now disappointed in the lack of change from previous policies, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The sound of drums rallied thousands of protesters who came together to denounce the use of American military force.

Demonstrators then prepared symbolic flag-draped coffins marking the presence of the U.S. military in different foreign countries.

Some protesters on bicycles and roller blades also staged mock attacks with cardboard drones right in front of the White House.

H.K. Suh from the group Korean Americans for Peace said he believes a drawdown of U.S. troops everywhere, including on the dividing line between the two Koreas, would be beneficial to the United States."You are sacrificing social programs, domestic programs here, which are being felt.  We have high unemployment, and people are struggling in making ends meet.  They are realizing that instead of all these wars overseas, they need to focus on here."

Howard University mechanical engineering student Brian Menafee organized an anti-war dance demonstration, seeking more help for students and lower military spending. "We are all out here to show that we are in a bad romance with the Obama administration, with the government.  We are here to show that students came and we really need investment in our future because we are the future of this country," he said.

In front of the National Monument, protesters lined the grass with symbolic tombstones honoring soldiers and civilians killed in recent U.S. military action.

Josh Stieber, an Iraq war veteran, explained his transformation from soldier to protester. "I guess it was a process of waking up to what I was actually doing and just as I am helping set up all these memorials out here, I think back to some of the things that were part of my day to day life in the military even before I got to Iraq, just how some of our battle cries would be things like kill them all," he said.

U.S. officials said rencently that they were considering sending an additional 2,500 troops to fend off Taliban extremists in northern Afghanistan, as part of an ongoing policy to defeat terrorists and prevent them from having safe havens.  

Last week also marked the seventh anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.  U.S. officials have said they hope to reduce troop presence in Iraq to 50,000 in non-combat roles by September.
Anti-war organizers said turnout was much lower than at similar marches before Mr. Obama became president, but they said disenchantment with U.S. foreign policy was growing again.

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