Thousands of demonstrators protested a possible war in Iraq at a rally and march in Los Angeles Saturday. As U.S. troops mobilize for a possible invasion, protest organizers are promising frequent demonstrations.
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the city, carrying signs that said "Food, Not Bombs," and "Healthcare, Not Warfare."
They chanted their opposition to war with Iraq.
"No war on Iraq. No war on Iraq."
Los Angeles congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat who seldom sees eye to eye with the President, was back from Washington to join the protest. "I came here to be with you today because I want to send a message back to Washington," she said. "I am not afraid of George W. Bush. I do not support a strike on Iraq."
With crowd estimates in the tens of thousands, organizers called this the biggest anti-war march in Los Angeles since the Vietnam War. 1970s-era musicians, all members of major rock bands, played some of the same music that was heard at earlier protests.
There were middle aged veterans of antiwar protests of earlier times, as well as high school and college students and families with children. A man named Kelly from Los Angeles came with his young daughter. "Because I got tired of yelling at the newspaper every day," he said. "I just thought it was important to come out and show that I have a voice and that I want to support other alternatives in this country besides war."
Los Angeles resident Silva Blackstone also took part in the rally with her family. "I'm here because I believe that war is a total waste of our resources and that every dollar we're spending on war we could be spending on humanity," she said.
Recent public opinion polls show some two-thirds of Americans would support a war in Iraq if the United States is part of an international coalition. A majority opposes unilateral action by the United States, or a costly ground war.
This week U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered some 62,000 more troops to join those already deployed around the periphery of Iraq.
If war preparations continue, protest organizers predict that rallies like this one will become frequent. Protests are scheduled for San Francisco and Washington next weekend.