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Words, not fists, for protest's two sides

By CHRISTINE SUH   |   Jan. 18, 2003 at 6:31 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Dozens of counter-demonstrators armed with U.S. flags showed up to the Washington anti-war protest Saturday to express their support for Bush's policy on Iraq.

Braving the below freezing temperatures, members of FreeRepublic.com, a conservative online group, and others not affiliated with formal organizations took over a block of sidewalk along the march route across from the Marine Barracks.

As the anti-war march passed the counter demonstrators, the battle of the chants began.

"Stop the war on America," "For the children, bomb Iraq," and "We gave peace a chance -- we got 9-1-1," shouted those on the sidewalk. Protesters who walked past carrying cardboard doves and peace signs countered, "We don't want your oil war," and "Money for jobs."

The sidewalk demonstrators said the war is not about oil but enforcement of international treaties.

Joe Murray, a Capitol Hill resident, said, "The anti-war protest is misguided and missing the point. Saddam has thumbed his nose at the world community for 11 years and the president is right to stand up to him."

A number of military veterans who showed up to support the FreeRepublic.com gathering agreed with Murray. Scott Johnson, who spent 20 years in the Navy, said, "This is not a preemptive war strike -- this is a continuation of a war" that started with Desert Storm.

To further bolster their argument, the veterans in favor of Bush's Iraq policy said many countries, such as South Korea, have benefited from U.S. military intervention.

"Only America has turned back Nazism, communism and totalitarianism," Johnson said in defense of his position. "The less tyranny in this world the better."

Many of the counter-demonstrators remarked that they are not pro-war but pro-enforcement.

"Everyone hopes diplomacy works," Leslie Montague told United Press International. "But I'm not too optimistic because Saddam has not complied. If the U.N. is going to have any power, they're going to have to enforce the treaty."

During the two hours it took for the thousands of antiwar protestors to pass the Marine Barracks, the sidewalk demonstrators tucked into a nearby sub shop every once in a while to warm up with coffee and tea. Not staying inside too long, they returned to their positions behind the police to respond to passing marchers.

Dozens of police maintained the barrier and confrontation was limited to shouting between and over their shoulders. No violence erupted between the two groups. While there were some arguments, many demonstrators on both sides of the police line just smiled and laughed as they read signs of the other side.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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