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Hundreds protest Iraq war


By Nick Perry and Sara Jean Green
Seattle Times

Police estimate that up to 1,000 protesters took part Wednesday afternoon in a student rally against the Iraq war and military recruiting in high schools.

The brisk pace of the march downtown and up Capitol Hill, coupled with occasional high-spirited shrieks of excitement, were giveaways that it was a youthful crowd.

Organizers had urged high-school students to cut class to attend, and it appeared several hundred did. They were joined by college students, parents, adult protesters — even some teachers.

Some wore face paint, others banged drums fashioned from water-cooler bottles. One student dragged a cardboard coffin containing shredded paper with the names of 2,000 U.S. troops who have died in Iraq.

The afternoon protest, marking the first anniversary of President Bush's re-election, was one of two downtown protests Wednesday. The earlier event, sponsored by an organization called The World Can't Wait and advocating Bush's ouster, also drew hundreds of demonstrators. Three arrests were made at the two rallies. Seattle police said a third and much-smaller evening event on Capitol Hill drew about 50 people.

Other World Can't Wait rallies also took place Wednesday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

Some students at the afternoon protest brandished irreverent signs: "Bush is poopy" read one worn by Callie Hynes, 17, a senior at Nathan Hale High School, who said her mom got it off the Internet. "Bush needs a time out" read another held by sixth-grader Izaak Goodall, who attends a Seattle Public Schools program called TOPS.

But many students were there to get across a serious message.

"There's a lot of people dying for no reason," said Rumana Jilo, 15, a freshman at Ingraham High School. Jilo, who is Muslim, said she's angry at the way Bush brings Christianity into politics. "He's trying to put everything on the Muslim population," she said.

Many were upset that military recruiters are allowed on school campuses.

"We can't even vote, and they're, like, trying to make us fight for a country we can't even change," said Zabrina Duncan, 16, a junior at Roosevelt High School.

Maggie Rose, a chemistry and biology teacher at Ingraham, said she took a day of leave to attend.

"I couldn't encourage students to come — it's not professional and I couldn't do it," she said. "But I would certainly tell any student to follow their heart.

"I'm really proud of all these kids," she added.

Students from Port Orchard, Bainbridge Island and the Eastside attended. The afternoon rally was organized by a group called Youth Against War and Racism, which has ties to another group called Socialist Alternative.

Seattle School District spokesman Peter Daniels said he didn't yet know how many of the district's 14,000 high-school students cut afternoon classes, although it was not enough to severely disrupt the educational schedule.

Many school administrators told students they could leave only with a note from parents. Without one, they could face repercussions for not attending class. That didn't stop many, who said they walked out anyway.

When the protest reached Capitol Hill, several dozen students sat defiantly on the roadway but were quickly persuaded by parents and organizers to move to the sidewalk.

During both protests, dozens of Seattle police officers monitored marchers from cruisers, bicycles and horseback. Some passers-by with different opinions made obscene gestures or tried to argue with protesters.

At the earlier demonstration, people whooped and chanted, beat drums and waved homemade placards denouncing the Iraq war and calling for Bush's removal from office.

Women waved metal coat hangers to protest Bush's recent U.S. Supreme Court nominees, whom they fear will revoke abortion rights. A group from Shoreline Community College wore orange jumpsuits — a reference to terrorism suspects detained at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — with the words "American Torture Victim" written across their chests in black marker.

At the earlier rally, one man was arrested on suspicion of pedestrian interference and obstructing police, said Seattle Police Department spokesman Rich Pruitt.

A different type of protest also took place early Wednesday when an unknown group tampered with newspapers at up to 175 Seattle newspaper boxes. Copies of The Seattle Times were wrapped in a fake front page titled "The Seattle Crimes" which poked fun at Bush, the U.S. military and Seattle police.

"I thought it was real," reader Karen Manning said. "I got to work and we were reading it, and it got more and more outrageous. Then we realized it was a hoax."

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com.

Information about other protests around the country was provided by Reuters.

Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan contributed to this report.

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