WASHINGTON - As the red glare of U.S. missiles illuminate the night sky over Iraq, a growing army of antiwar protesters is making their presence felt here and in towns and cities around the nation.
Yesterday, a hardy group of antiwar demonstrators, many of them high school students, braved a driving rain to protest at a noon rally at 16th and H Streets, about a block from the White House.
Bryce Hale, a senior at Walt Whitman High School in Montgomery County, said he opposes the war because of his belief that many innocent Iraqis will be killed.
"This war is being fought for capitalism, for money and for oil," he said. "Americans are greedy; all they care about is getting gas for their SUVs."
More than 2,000 students walked out of classes at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. Elsewhere in the nation, there were demonstrations on college campuses and protests that caused major disruptions in San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia. Streets were blocked and buildings barricaded. Police made more than 500 arrests by mid-day in San Francisco.
In Washington during the morning rush hour, motorists were delayed when about 150 demonstrators shut down the inbound lanes of Key Bridge, which crosses the Potomac and connects Arlington, Va., with Georgetown.
About 50 demonstrators on bicycles pedaled through downtown Washington carrying signs that said "Bikes Not Bombs."
Code Pink, an antiwar group led by San Francisco activist Medea Benjamin, held a sit-in yesterday at the office of Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the leader of Senate Democrats.
Benjamin denounced Daschle - who said this week he was "saddened" by the start of the war - for not opposing its prosecution more forcefully. Yesterday, Daschle said, "When it comes to our troops, our recognition of the commander in chief ... we do stand united."
The demonstrators, some wearing army fatigues stained with red dye simulating blood, wanted to meet with Daschle. A staffer for Daschle told them he was on the Senate floor and would not be returning to the office. They decided to sit in.
At about 5:30 p.m., protesters returned to 16th and H streets, where they chanted and sang. Many belonged to a group called Act Now to Stop War & End Racism.
One of their chants was: "Hey, Bush, we know you, your daddy was a killer, too."
Andrea Buffa, a spokeswoman for the antiwar group United for Peace & Justice, said protesters tried to shut down San Francisco's financial district, and they blocked traffic across the city.
Some of the San Francisco protesters were violent. They fought with police and threw debris into the streets and broke windows. One protester in a rope harness committed suicide by letting himself fall from the Golden Gate Bridge as police tried to coax him to safety.
Protesters in Philadelphia blocked the entrances to the downtown federal building, forcing police to detour motorists around the area. About 100 were arrested.
Wire services contributed to this article.