Protesters march on the Capitol: 'End the War'

The president wasn't home for this demonstration outside the White House, but tens of thousands of marchers started here. All photos by Mark Silva

by Mark Silva


Thousands assembled in and around a sun-splashed square across the street from the White House today to protest the war in Iraq and march up Pennsylvania Avenue for an anti-war demonstration and "die-in'' at the foot of the Capitol.

The one person whom protesters were targeting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however, was not home. President Bush spent the night at Camp David in the Maryland mountains.


"End the war now,'' declared the signs of placard-toting protesters. "Peace Now,'' chanted some. And still others stood silent by a flag-draped coffin, with combat boots atop it and a portrait of a fallen Marine, Alexander Arredondo, before it.

The American flag above the casket, flying upside down, flapped in the stiff breeze of the most spectacular fall-like day the capital has seen in this fifth September of the war in Iraq.

It occurred to at least one observer at this rally and the start of a long march just how many people this protest might represent – if it reached the 25,000 that organizers had promised, though that appeared implausible: This is roughly the same number of soldiers and Marines who will be coming home by next summer, under the plan the president announced this week -- leaving about five times as many troops still in Iraq.

"The arrogant policies of the surge are trespassing and illegal as the war itself," a speaker atop the rally platform in Lafayette Square told a crowd toting various signs reading, "End the War Now... Troops Out Now and Impeach Bush… The World Can't Wait... Drive out the Bush Regime.''

"Paisanos for Peace:" the Swamp's personal favorite T-shirt.

The protesters spoke of the war as something other than the ideological struggle of the 21st Century.

"End the occupation, bring the troops home now,'' a rally spokesman said. "Keep the faith. Keep up the struggle.''

Before they set out for the Capitol, amassing and marching around the front of the White House, past the Treasury Department – where protesters chanted, "This war is for profit'' – and out to the long and wide boulevard that leads to the capital, spokesmen for Iraq Veterans Against the War attempted to explain the powers that be in Washington and throughout the land as another election campaign season gets underway.


"These same institutions will be asking us to give more power to them,'' he said, suggesting that voters "eventually losing faith in them'' may be tempted not to vote.

Yet voting alone is not the solution, the protest leader suggested as thousands set out for the Capitol: "Put your conscience into a social movement.... The war will continue no matter who is elected. It is the people who will break this camel's back."

Assembling on Pennsylvania Avenue at the start of the march.