Anti-war demonstration planned for D.C.

Rally tomorrow aimed at pressuring Bush and Congress on Iraq

January 26, 2007|By Adam Schreck and Valerie Reitman | Adam Schreck and Valerie Reitman,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- Emboldened by the Democratic takeover of Congress and shrinking public support for the Iraq war, anti-war groups are planning what they hope will be a huge protest tomorrow on the National Mall.

Organizers said they aim to put pressure on both the White House and Congress to end the war.

"The message will be `Mr. President, bring our troops home,'" said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat who is one of several politicians, activists and actors scheduled to speak in Washington.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, director of the PUSH/Rainbow Coalition, one of the rally sponsors, is also scheduled to appear on the Mall, organizers said, as are Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat and a longshot candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and actors Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

"We're predicting this will be one of the largest demonstrations since the war began," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, the umbrella group organizing the Washington protest.

About 300 busloads of protesters are traveling from more than 30 states to attend the rally, said United for Peace and Justice spokesman Hany Khalil.

Sgt. Scott Booker of the U.S. Park Police said organizers had initially requested a permit for 50,000 people on the Mall, but Khalil said yesterday that organizers are expecting numbers to reach into the hundreds of thousands. When asked whether he believed the revised estimate was realistic, Booker said, "It's quite possible."

The protest comes at a time when polls show that public support for Bush's Iraq policy and for the war itself are at all-time lows. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll last week found that 62 percent of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting, and only one-third approved of the president's handling of the war. Three out of five respondents said they disapproved of Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq, and about half said they wanted Congress to prevent the deployment.

Tomorrow's rally and march in Washington will be followed by a coordinated lobbying effort Monday to pressure lawmakers into supporting Senate and House resolutions against the deployment of additional troops to Iraq.

Former Rep. Tom Andrews, a Maine Democrat and national director of Win Without War, said the rally and appeal to lawmakers are part of the "most sophisticated and focused effort so far" against the war.

Adam Schreck and Valerie Reitman write for the Los Angeles Times.

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