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April 13, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Thousands Gather in D.C. to Cheer Troops
Thousands Gather in Washington to Cheer Troops; Protests Continue As War Winds Down

The Associated Press


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WASHINGTON April 13

The spring meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, usually a magnet for protesters, hasn't attracted much opposition this time around.

Opponents of the financial institutions said their call to cancel the debt owed by developing nations has been drowned out by concern over the war with Iraq.

"People are focused on different things, primarily the war," said Marie Clarke Brill, national coordinator for Jubilee USA, one of the anti-World Bank groups.

Though previous financial summits have brought threats of civil disobedience and massive protests, organizers this time around obtained a permit for just 2,000 people and said there were no plans to block traffic or blockade businesses. They planned a march from a park several blocks north of the White House to World Bank headquarters.

D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey said he didn't expect any problems. "I have no reason to believe this is going to cause us to make arrests," he said.

The World Bank march followed competing rallies for and against the Iraq war on Saturday.

With a coalition victory in Iraq all but decided, anti-war protesters in Washington and elsewhere in the United States and Canada turned out in much smaller numbers than in the months leading up to the conflict.

Their focus switched from stopping American troops from going to Iraq to getting them out of that country.

Lynne LaBonte, 52, a bookkeeper from Williamsburg, Mass., attending an anti-war rally near the White House, said the United Nations, not the U.S. military, should rebuild Iraq.

"I'd like to see us go to the United Nations and talk to the people who really are peacemakers and don't have any economic incentive there," LaBonte said. "I certainly don't think the military should be running the show."

Near the anti-war protest site, a similar number, intermittently chanting "U-S-A U-S-A," held their own rally against the backdrop of the Capitol dome. As demonstrators waved American flags, people said nothing about U.S. troops' leaving any time soon.

"We are safer today than we were a month ago," said one speaker, former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., now a television actor. "Now we have to prove that not only do we have the firepower, we have the staying power."

Associated Press writers David Ho and Sam Hananel contributed to this report.


photo credit and caption:
Talk radio host G. Gordon Liddy speaks at the rally for troops in Washington Saturday, April 13, 2003. Protesters in the United States and abroad renewed their campaign against the conflict Saturday. In Washington, 10 blocks from an antiwar demonstration, supporters of the war effort drew thousands to their own rally. (AP Photo/Lisa Nipp)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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