The anti-war-with-Iraq movement garnered a few hundred protesters in Salt Lake City Saturday, while more significant opposition continued in other major U.S. cities.
At the same time, there were rallies across the nation in support of the U.S.-led war on Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein.
At the Utah State Capitol a few hundred anti-war advocates, wearing mostly black, held a "funeral for democracy." At the mock memorial, the attendees paid their last respects to the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations, international law, democracy, civil liberties, social programs and war victims.
"We are part of the global majority," Shea Pickelner said. "We're surely distressed at the turn the country has taken towards the decision for a pre-emptive strike."
On the Capitol steps a solitary couple clad in red, white and blue held signs amid the black shirts, urging folks to "Support Our Troops." Behind them several anti-war advocates held a bake sale to raise legal defense funds for people who might be arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience. One item on the table was "vegan, wheat-free chocolate-chip brownies."
Anti-war advocates also held their usual ground a few blocks south in Salt Lake City Saturday — a street corner in front of the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building — while military supporters set up shop across the street. The dueling sides both held American flags and encouraged passing cars to honk for their respective causes.
"Support Bush" read one sign.
"Honk for Peace" read another across the street.
Both groups fluctuated in numbers but were generally small, usually numbering about a dozen each.
Meanwhile, a group called "United for Peace and Justice" orchestrated several anti-war protests across the country. In New York City, advocates assembled on Broadway between 36th and 42nd Streets and between Sixth and Seventh Avenues before marching to Washington Square. The Associated Press estimated that crowd spanned almost a dozen blocks and numbered between 40,000 and 200,000 people.
In Springfield, Mass., protesters planned a march and civil disobedience at Westover Air Force Base, and in San Francisco they held a rally and march.
The group planned similar efforts today, including a protest at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
There were supporters of President Bush who gathered in several places across the nation Saturday. In Lansing, Mich., war supporters gathered at the state Capitol, and another group met at a baseball stadium in Millington, Tenn., the AP reported.
At the stadium, Ricky Hunt held a poster with an 8-by-10 photograph of a young Marine he knows in Iraq. He also slung a Marine Corps flag over his shoulder.
"We're really tired of all the protesters. I don't understand them. I think they ought to remember where they got their freedom," Hunt said.