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Voters running out of patience on Iraq

Latest update : 2008-03-19

While George W. Bush still talks of victory in Iraq, voters are running out of patience. Anti-war protests are expected to get under way to mark the 5th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion. (FRANCE 24 Report : G. Meyer)

Opponents of the Iraq war plan to hold marches, sit-ins and other protests on Wednesday in cities across the United States to mark the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion.

Anti-war groups said they were organizing hundreds of events during the week as well as larger rallies in Washington, New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco to demand an immediate withdrawal of US troops and mourn those killed five years since the war began.

Although attendance at anti-war demonstrations has declined in recent years, organizers of Wednesday's events said they were confident of attracting large crowds.

"This war needs to end and it needs to end now," Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice, told AFP. "I think people are looking for new ways to express their opposition."

Public disapproval of the war has yet to translate into massive, sustained street demonstrations in the United States like those seen during the Vietnam war, even as the death toll of US soldiers approaches 4,000.

While the war remains unpopular, with a majority of Americans calling the decision to invade a mistake, public opinion is divided over when to withdraw the 155,000 US soldiers deployed in Iraq.

The demonstrations come after a new poll for British television showed more than two-thirds of Iraqis believe US-led coalition forces should leave. The same poll had 40 percent wanting Washington to play a bigger role in rebuilding Iraq. planned more than 850 candlelight vigils nationwide, including one in front of the White House, to "commemorate the sacrifices too many families have made, and the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq that could have been better invested at home," the group said on its website.

More than 600 events, many organized by local activists, were posted on a website run by United for Peace and Justice.

"They range from vigils and marches to visits with members of Congress to civil disobedience, sit-ins and banner drops," Cagan said.

Demonstrators in the US capital planned to "blockade" the Internal Revenue Service, while others would try to "shut down war profiteers" on K Street, known as the home of Washington's corporate lobbyists.

In New York, protesters from the Granny Peace Brigade were to hold a "knit-in" at the Times Square military recruitment center that was targeted in a home-made bomb attack earlier this month.

The grandmothers were to knit stump socks for amputee veterans and baby blankets for Iraqi families.

"We grannies hope to highlight our message demanding an end to this useless and catastrophic war," said Barbara Walker, 74, among the group's members arrested when they tried to enlist in the military in 2005.

In Chicago, a rally and protest march was to be held in the central business district while in Louisville, Kentucky protestors will read aloud the names of some of the nearly 4,000 US troops killed and the Iraqi civilians killed and displaced.

Protestors in Dallas, Texas will perform skits, play music and hear Iraq veterans speak against the war on the grassy knoll overlooking the plaza where president John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Church bells will ring through the town of Clinton, Iowa to memorialize the dead at a vigil marked by prayer, speakers and song.

And some 4,000 empty T-shirts will be strung along a street in Cincinnati, Ohio to memorialize the US troops killed.

On the west coast, the focal point of protests in Los Angeles will be a military recruitment center in the heart of Hollywood, said the ANSWER coalition, or Act Now To Stop War And End Racism. The demonstration follows a weekend protest where about 2,000 people marched to protest the war.

A string of vigils and rallies will also take place in San Francisco, where protests against the war five years ago saw around 2,000 people arrested over a a three-day period.

In Miami, protesters intend to march to the US military's Southern Command "to bear somber witness to the real human cost of the ongoing US occupation of Iraq and attack on her people," said a group called Miami for Peace.

Date created : 2008-03-19