Celebrities, veterans join anti-war protest


Richard Moore

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Celebrities, veterans join anti-war protest
By Deborah Charles in Washington
January 28, 2007 07:03am
Article from: Reuters

CHANTING "bring our troops home," tens of thousands of anti-war protesters 
rallied in front of the US Capitol building overnight to pressure the government
to get out of Iraq.

Veterans and military families joined some lawmakers, peace groups and actors 
including Vietnam war protester Jane Fonda to urge Congress and President George
W. Bush to stop funding the war and pull troops from Iraq.

"When I served in the war, I thought I was serving honorably. Instead, I was 
sent to war ... for causes that have proved fraudulent," said Iraq war veteran 
Garett Reppenhagen.

"We need to put pressure on our elected government and force them to ... bring 
the troops home," said the former sniper to cheers from the crowd at a rally 
held on the National Mall.

Tens of thousands of people attended the rally, according to a park police 

For more than two hours, speakers criticised Mr Bush and the US presence in Iraq
before protesters marched around the Capitol.

A group of families of soldiers killed in Iraq stood holding pictures of their 
loved ones, including one photo of a soldier in full dress uniform lying in a 

More than 3000 US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed since 
the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The protest was one of several expected around the country, including a large 
march scheduled in Los Angeles.

Protesters planned coordinated efforts during the week to lobby lawmakers to 
take action against the war.

President Bush's approval rating has dropped to some of the weakest of his 
presidency and polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of President George
W. Bush's plan to send an additional 12,500 troops to Iraq.

But Mr Bush said he has no intention of backing off his plan.

Asked about the protests, White House national security adviser spokesman Gordon
Johndroe said The US President "understands that Americans want to see a 
conclusion to the war in Iraq and the new strategy is designed to do just that."

The demonstrations come amid growing efforts by lawmakers to protest Bush's 
plans in Iraq. The Senate Foreign

Relations committee passed a resolution on Wednesday opposing the plan to send 
more troops to Iraq.

Protesters said they hoped to send Bush and Congress a message that Americans 
did not support the war.

"I'm convinced this is Bush's war. He has his own agenda there," said Anne Chay,
holding a sign with a picture of her 19-year-old son, John, who is serving in 
Iraq. "We're serving no purpose there."

Mrs Chay said her son, who has been in Baghdad since last July, said he was 
proud of her for traveling from Andover, Massachusetts, to take part in the 
anti-war rally.

Ms Fonda, who was criticized for her opposition to the Vietnam war, drew huge 
cheers when she addressed the crowd. She noted that she had not spoken at an 
anti-war rally in 34 years.

"Silence is no longer an option," she said. "I'm so sad we have to do this - 
that we did not learn from the lessons of the Vietnam war."

Democratic Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and chair of the House 
Judiciary Committee, said the Nov. 7 election - which gave Democrats control of 
both houses of Congress - showed Americans want change.

"It takes the ... outrage of the American people to force Washington to do the 
right thing," he said. "We've got to hold more of these ... until our government
gets the message - Out if Iraq immediately. This year. We've got to go."

Copyright 2007 News Limited. All times AEDT (GMT +11).

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