WASHINGTON - Protesters rallied by the thousands in the bitter cold of Washington on Saturday and in capitals worldwide in a passionate show of dissent against war with Iraq. The cry "No blood for oil" echoed from America's National Mall to the streets of Pakistan.
A rally outside the Capitol, followed by a march to a naval yard, anchored the demonstrations and brought spirited masses together to declare America the "Rogue Nation," as one sign put it.
"We stand here today, a new generation of anti-war activists," Peta Lindsay from International Answer, the main organizers, exhorted the national rally. "This is just beginning. We will stop this war."
Festive face paint adorned some in the crowd but wool hats were pulled down low and parkas were closely gathered against temperatures that edged up from the teens. Buses idled with heaters on and protesters occasionally darted inside for a warm spell before rejoining the rally.
"We don't want this war and we don't want a government that wants this war," said Brenda Stokely, a New York City labor activist.
A sign demanded, "Disarm Bush"; the crowd chanted, "No war on Iraq."
Activists invoked the nonviolent legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on the long weekend that marks the civil rights leader's birthday, and booed President Bush, who was at Camp David, Md.
"Mr. Bush hung Dr. King's picture up in the White House last year but he need to hang up Dr. King's words," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Democratic presidential candidate.
"In Iraq today there are weapons inspectors, but here on the west side of the Capitol are the moral inspectors," he said, referring to a bulk of the demonstrators. "We're inspecting the immoral policies that said, 'No, we can't find the weapons in Iraq, we want to go to war.'"
As with any big Washington rally, the main cause made room for other causes.
"Free Palestine" was one of them. Racism and genocide were others.
"The underlying motives for this government's actions have always been greed and racism," said Moonanum James of United American Indians of New England.
"In the spirit of Dr. King, in the spirit of Crazy Horse," he said, "no blood for oil."
A major demonstration also was planned in San Francisco, and activists elsewhere. For many, the imperative was to come to Washington.
In Lansing, Mich., several hundred people met at a church before marching 20 blocks to the state Capitol. "It's just great enthusiasm here, and a great spirit of peacemaking," said the Rev. Fred Thelen from Cristo Rey Catholic Church. Signs said: "Peace is Patriotic" and "Iraqis are not evil."
Demonstrators also staged peace rallies worldwide, events that typically drew hundreds or fewer.
But 5,000 people marched through downtown Tokyo, carrying toy guns filled with flowers and wearing face masks that parodied Bush. The crowd, made up largely of students and laborers, was orderly.
Larry Holmes, speaking for organizers of the Washington rally, said protesters everywhere sense war is close.
"It seems like it has a momentum and a sense of inevitability, and so we're rushing against the clock," he said. "So as they send the troops there and surround Iraq, we're sending the troops into the streets of Washington, D.C., so to speak."
Three dozen people turned out by the Vietnam War Memorial to show support for President Bush's policy on Iraq and offer a contrary voice to the blitz of demonstrations.
"The protesters don't understand the threat" of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said Scott Johnson, 55, a Navy veteran from Minneapolis. "It's a war of liberation for people."
Police said they had been assured the main rally and march, from the National Mall, around the Capitol, past Marine barracks and to the Washington Navy Yard, would stay peaceful.
Overseas, 60 protesters in Hong Kong shouted, "War, no," and in Pakistan, the familiar refrain "No blood for oil" rang out — a refrain that accuses America of wanting to attack Iraq only to control its oil wealth.
Several hundred people tried to march on the U.S. consulate in Lahore, but Pakistani authorities held the crowd back. Six were allowed to deliver an appeal to American officials to spare Iraqis from war.
More than 400 New Zealanders demonstrated in Christchurch. In Moscow, a few hundred people agitated outside the U.S. Embassy in a protest organized by a branch of the Communist Party. People turned their backs to the building, and signs called the United States a "Global Cannibal."
In the Syrian capital, Damascus, thousands marched with a message that was not all about peace. Many cried, "Our beloved Saddam, strike Tel Aviv," in celebration of Iraq's missile thrusts against Israel during the 1991 Gulf War and in hope Saddam would strike again. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians rallied under the same slogan.
In Washington, demonstrators hoped the weekend protests and more ahead would win over an American public that is unsettled by the prospect of an Iraq war yet supportive of Bush's leadership.