'Color Purple' author, 26 others arrested at peace rally
Anti-war demonstrations held across globe
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Alice Walker, author of the novel "The Color Purple," and 26 others were arrested Saturday after marching to the White House to protest a possible war with Iraq.
Walker joined thousands of others who protested war, mostly peacefully, in dozens of cities around the world, as the United States continued its diplomatic push toward invading Iraq.
Protests were planned in more than 50 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Seattle, Washington. Around the globe, crowds turned out in England, Germany, Chile and Japan.
In Italy, a group of protesters demonstrating against war forced their way through the perimeter fence of a U.S. military base. (Full story)
Walker and author Maxine Hong Kingston, who wrote "The Woman Warrior," and 25 others were arrested for crossing a police line when they finished their march in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, a U.S. Secret Service spokesman said.
The protesters stood arm-in-arm in front of the White House before being taken away by police.
CNN estimated that more than 3,000 protesters gathered in Washington, D.C., in a park a mile north of the White House. Organizers put the figure at 5,000.
The protests come at a critical diplomatic juncture.
The U.N. Security Council remains divided over whether weapons inspections in Iraq are working, or if military action against Iraq should be authorized.
The United States, Britain and Spain presented a new draft resolution last week that would express international support for military action. But France, Russia and China -- all of which have veto power -- are among the nations opposed. They have said the destruction of the missiles proves Iraq can be disarmed peacefully.
The members debated an amended resolution Friday that would give Iraq until March 17 to disarm. A vote is expected Tuesday. (Full story)
Feminist anti-war group organizes D.C. rally
The D.C. protest was organized by Code Pink, a feminist anti-war group whose name is itself a protest against the government's color-coded terror alert levels. Code Pink has sponsored a week of activities in the city. The group has held daily anti-war vigils in front of the White House for four months, spokeswoman Andrea Buffa said.
Actress Janeane Garofalo, who has spoken out against the Bush administration's position on Iraq, said the White House has not fully explained to the American people the cost of such a war.
"I don't think that the administration is being particularly honest with the American people about what this is going to cost in life and in dollars, what the dangers are, retaliatory strikes, once it happens," Garofalo said. "This is not a war that needs to happen immediately, if ever."
Garofalo, who spoke at the rally in Malcolm X Park, said she was not sure whether such demonstrations could change the path she fears the United States is heading down but that it was important to speak out nonetheless.
"Silence does not equal patriotism. Obedience is not the American way," she said. "It's our obligation to watchdog the government because, for the most part, the media has not done so."
In New York, hundreds of demonstrators marched from Union Square down Broadway to Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village. It was organized partly by The ANSWER Coalition, which helped organize widespread anti-war rallies last month.
ANSWER is planning rallies March 15 in Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.
Smaller pro-war, anti-France demonstrations
Advocates of a military strike in Iraq were also represented Saturday. In Pittsburgh, hundreds of bikers turned out in leather with red, white and blue bandanas for a rally. Vietnam war veterans spoke and a musician played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" on guitar.
Fewer than 50 war supporters rallied in Santa Rosa, California. Other rallies took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Manchester, Connecticut.
Some demonstrations took on an anti-France tone. About 30 people gathered Friday on a street corner in downtown Los Angeles to protest the United States' most outspoken opponent in the crisis over Iraq. People emptied bottles of French red wine into the gutter to show their displeasure.
Earlier this week, high school and college students from Wisconsin to Egypt rallied on campuses in opposition to a war against Iraq
At more than 360 schools across the United States, students walked out of classes and protested, according to the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, which organized the rallies. Students in most major cities in Australia attended rallies as well, stopping traffic in Sydney at one point. Half a million students participated in a government-led protest in Cairo, Egypt.
In England, the United States' strongest ally in its push for Iraqi disarmament, people in Manchester carried umbrellas through rainy streets during an afternoon protest. Eight war protesters marched with black umbrellas pointed forward that were painted to spell: G-E-N-O-C-I-D-E.
Protesters marched through a rainy Stuttgart, Germany, some blocking the access road to the headquarters of the U.S. European Command.
In Italy, tens of thousands of protesters marched from Pisa to nearby Camp Darby, a U.S. military facility that is one of Europe's biggest munitions bases for U.S. and NATO forces.
"This is going to be, as the pope said, a criminal war of aggression," one man said.
Pope John Paul II said this week that he did not think war with Iraq would be legally or morally justified. He called for a peaceful solution to disarming Iraq.
Protesters in Tokyo, Japan, marched in downtown streets holding signs asking "Why Iraq?" and "Stop War."
In Chile, an undecided member of the U.N. Security Council, war protesters marched in the capital, Santiago.