Thousands converge on Manhattan for anti-war demonstration
NEW YORK – Tens of thousands of protesters marched Saturday through lower Manhattan to demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, just hours after this month’s death toll reached 70.Cindy Sheehan, a vociferous critic of the war whose soldier son also died in Iraq, joined in the march, as did actress Susan Sarandon and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.”End this war, bring the troops home,” read one sign lifted by marchers on the sunny afternoon, three years after the war in Iraq began. The mother of a Marine killed two years ago in Iraq held a picture of her son, born in 1984 and killed 20 years later.One group marched under the banner “Veterans for Peace.”The demonstrators stretched for about 10 blocks as they headed down Broadway. Organizers said 300,000 people marched, though a police spokesman declined to give an estimate. There were no reports of arrests.”We are here today because the war is illegal, immoral and unethical,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton. “We must bring the troops home.”Organizers said the march was also meant to oppose any military action against Iran, which is facing international criticism over its nuclear program. The event was organized by the group United for Peace and Justice.”We’ve been lied to, and they’re going to lie to us again to bring us a war in Iran,” said Marjori Ramos, 43, of New York. “I’m here because I had a lot of anger, and I had to do something.”Steve Rand, an English teacher from Waterbury, Vt., held a poster announcing, “Vermont Says No to War.””I’d like to see our troops come home,” he said.The march stepped off shortly after noon from Union Square, with the demonstrators heading for a rally between a U.S. courthouse and a federal office building in lower Manhattan.The death toll in Iraq for April was the highest for a single month in 2006. At least 2,399 U.S. military members have died since the war began. An Army soldier was the latest victim, killed Saturday in a roadside explosion in Baghdad.That figure is well below some of the bloodiest months of the Iraq conflict, but is a sharp increase over March, when 31 were killed. January’s death toll was 62 and February’s 55. In December, 68 Americans died.