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US protests mark five years of Iraq war

Latest update : 2008-03-20

Protesters across the US marked five years of war in Iraq, calling for immediate troops withdrawal. US President George W. Bush defended the launch of the war and promised triumph. (Report: G.Cragg)

WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) - More than 160 people were
arrested across the United States on Wednesday as protesters
marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq
obstructed downtown traffic and tried to block access to
government offices.
 

There were 32 arrests in Washington after demonstrators
attempted to block entrances to the Internal Revenue Service,
while 30 others were arrested outside a congressional office
building, police said.
 

Protesters had hoped to shut down the IRS, the U.S. tax
collection agency, to highlight the cost of the war. Police
cleared the building's entrances within an hour.
 

In San Francisco, long a center of anti-Iraq war sentiment,
police arrested more than 100 people who protested through the
day along Market Street in the central business district, a
spokesman said.
 

Sgt. Steve Maninna said officers had arrested 101 people on
charges including trespassing, resisting arrest and obstructing
traffic.
 

Four women were also detained for hanging a large banner
off the city's famous Golden Gate Bridge and then released,
said bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie.
 

On Washington's National Mall, about 100 protesters carried
signs that read: "The Endlessness Justifies the
Meaninglessness" and waved upside-down U.S. flags, a
traditional sign of distress.
 

"Bush and Cheney, leaders failed, Bush and Cheney belong in
jail," they chanted, referring to U.S. President George W. Bush
and Vice President Dick Cheney.
 

One hour after the IRS standoff, several dozen protesters
waved signs that read: "Stop Paying to Kill" and "How Much
Longer?" as a ragtag brass band played. IRS employees were
easily able to enter the building.
 

"We wanted to put our bodies between the money and what
that money goes to fund -- the war, the occupation, the bombs,"
said Frida Berrigan, an organizer with the War Resisters
League.
 

The war has cost the United States $500 billion since the
invasion to topple Saddam Hussein began in March 2003 and is a
major issue in November's U.S. presidential election. Tens of
thousands of Iraqis have been killed and millions more
displaced, with almost 4,000 U.S. soldiers killed.
 

BLOCKING TRAFFIC
 

Later, scores of noisy protesters blocked a busy
intersection in Washington's business district. They picketed
in front of the offices of The Washington Post and threw red
paint on the building that houses the Examiner newspaper and
Bechtel National Inc, which has handled major reconstruction
projects in Iraq.
 

In New York, about 30 members of the "Granny Peace Brigade"
gathered in Times Square, knitting in hand, to demand troops be
brought home now.
 

"We're out here to show people that this war is madness. We
never should have gotten into this war in the first place,"
said Shirley Weiner, 80.
 

Police in Boston arrested five people who blocked access to
a military recruitment center by lying on a sidewalk dressed as
slain Iraqi civilians, an Iraqi mourner, a slain U.S. soldier
and an American citizen in mourning.
 

"We went to this military recruiting station today because
we want to see the war end immediately," said activist Joe
Previtera in a statement. "Silently waiting for Congress to act
on this war in 2009 will condemn thousands more people to
injury and senseless death. Enough is enough."

Date created : 2008-03-20

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