NEW YORK (AP) – More than 250 people were arrested during a massive demonstration against possible war in Iraq as tens of thousands of protesters packed a 20-block area north of United Nations headquarters, New York police said yesterday.
Most of the 257 arrests were for disorderly conduct and other minor violations that mostly resulted in tickets to appear in court, police said. Five people were arrested on felony charges and 53 on misdemeanors.
The New York protest was just one of scores that brought out millions of people across the nation and around the world Saturday. Rome claimed the biggest turnout – 1 million according to police, and London reported more than 750,000 in what police called the city’s largest protest ever.
Police in New York said the crowd that chanted and listened to speakers in the city’s bitter cold was about 100,000-strong, while organizers estimated it at three to five times that size.
In Los Angeles, where police estimated the crowd at 30,000, one person was arrested for allegedly trying to vandalize a Gap store, another for an outstanding warrant and three for disturbing the peace, Los Angeles Officer Lucy Diaz said.
In San Francisco yesterday, police estimated 100,000 anti-war demonstrators hit the streets, filling 12 large city blocks stretching from the waterfront to city hall. Demonstrators had postponed their event one day so as not to infringe on the city’s popular Chinese New Year parade.
“Finally it seems there is a worldwide movement saying this is obviously a catastrophic path we’re on,” said Deborah Hoffmann, 55, part of a group of Arab and Israeli women. “And now everybody is out in the streets.”
In Denver, about 300 people waving U.S. flags and holding signs proclaiming “war is bad, evil is worse” gathered yesterday in support of using force against Iraq.
“I support our president and I support my sons. This is the only option,” said Pam Pearson, 49, whose two sons are in the Navy. “I’d rather force Sadaam out than have to play by his rules.”
Some demonstrators who arrived late at the New York rally Saturday complained that police kept them from crossing barriers to join the main rally. A court order prohibited protesters from marching past the United Nations because of security concerns, so the crowd gathered on a blocked-off First Avenue instead.