Stateside demonstrations draw smaller crowds

The organizers of Saturday’s antiwar protests in the US could not have been very heartened by the turnouts at the biggest events.

Despite a lot of focus on a demonstration in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near the Fort Bragg military base, only about 3,000 people turned out.

Reuters reported:

The crowd in Central Park was much smaller than last year, when an estimated 100,000 people marched in New York City.

“I think Bush’s re-election took the steam out of the anti-war movement,” said activist and public defender Michael Letwin, 48.

In downtown Chicago, hundreds of protesters held a mostly peaceful rally. Police corralled demonstrators who tried to march down busy Michigan Avenue in defiance of a city permit requiring them to use another street.

Two people were arrested for what police said was failing to use the designated route, and protesters later congregated in a nearby four-block square, shouting “Let us march!”

In San Francisco, a few thousand anti-war protesters marched to city hall in rainy weather carrying signs that said “Beat Back the Bush Attack” and chanting “We need jobs, health care and education, not more war and occupation.”

Later local activists such as the actor Danny Glover gave speeches at a rally police said was much smaller than the previous year due to the rain. Police reported no arrests.

This plea from a Chicago demonstrator doesn’t bespeak a strong and confident movement.

chicago demo.jpg

Our coverage of the European and British demonstrations (with comments open) is posted further down an unusually busy weekend page (or click here if you wish).