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US antiwar demonstrations mark four years since Iraq invasion
Tens of thousands of people took part in marches and rallies in Washington, D.C., and in cities across the country over the weekend to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, demanding an end to the war in Iraq and the withdrawal of US troops.
In Washington on Saturday, marchers came from as far away as Maine, Iowa and California, despite the near-freezing temperatures and snow storms the night before.
Veterans of the Iraq war and family members of soldiers killed there joined the march from the Lincoln Memorial across the Potomac River to a rally at the Pentagon. Organizers placed the crowd at between 20,000 and 30,000, while police, who no longer give official estimates, said the crowd ranged from 10,000 to 20,000. A few hundred right-wing counter-demonstrators lined the route near the Lincoln Memorial, some of them shouting obscenities at the marchers.
A massive security mobilization greeted the march, with police on motorcycles, bicycles, and horseback and in vans and patrol cars lining the route and present at both the assembly point and rally. Several helicopters circled low over the crowd, making it difficult for people to hear the speakers.
Arlo Gesner, who came from Cornell College in Iowa, expressed his frustration with the Democratic Party. “I came today not just for the war, but because the government is not listening to the people. You can put all the pressure you want on the Democratic Party, but they are backing this war. Time and time again, it has been shown that the Democrats support this war.”
Jessica Smith, also from Cornell College, said that she came because her brother is being sent to Afghanistan. “I just found out that he is proud of me coming here,” she said. “I had the chance to see him this weekend, but I felt that I needed to come here and take a stand against this war.”