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Tens of Thousands Turn Out in New York to Protest Possible War - 2003-02-15

In New York, tens of thousands of people took to the streets Saturday to protest against a possible U.S. led war with Iraq. Correspondent Nick Simeone reports large sections of Manhattan were blocked off to ensure the protest did not get out of hand.

Anti-war protesters, many carrying signs saying "No War on Iraq" and "The World Says No to War" marched through Manhattan in sub-freezing temperatures, as hundreds of police deployed on foot and on horseback and in helicopters overhead kept a close watch.

Young and old alike, these demonstrators were angry over U.S. threats to disarm Iraq by force, rather than working to resolve the standoff over Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction through the United Nations, even if that takes time.

"This guy is a tyrant and we need to get rid of him somehow," said one protester, "but I think we should do it more carefully and slowly and with the will of the world instead of going against everybody and making ourselves a target."

"Negotiations need to continue, ad infinitum," another said. "We are a great nation. We can show our greatness by taking the leadership in negotiation and diplomacy."

A third protester added, "Colin Powell was preparing us yesterday for a five to ten year engagement of taking over another country, which is going to cause more terrorist attacks."

New York, perhaps more than the rest of the nation, has been on an especially high alert for a possible terrorist attack, and it's hard to find a street within blocks of this protest without a heavy police presence.

This city is used to large protests, but a judge rejected a request by organizers of this event to be allowed to march, citing security concerns and worries that the size of the expected crowd could overwhelm police.

But these protesters did in effect get to march as they paraded through Manhattan's heavily-patrolled streets, chanting anti-war slogans and banging drums, just a few blocks from the United Nations, where the next steps on Iraq are being considered.