Saturday, February 15, 2003

New York Times Report

On a freezing winter day in New York, a huge crowd, prohibited by a court order from marching, rallied within sight of the United Nations amid heavy security. They raised banners of patriotism and dissent, sounded the hymns of a broad new antiwar movement and heard speakers denounce what they called President Bush's rush to war, while offering no sympathy for Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein.

"The World Says No to War," proclaimed a huge banner over a stage on First Avenue near 51st Street, the focal point of a vast crowd that filled the avenue between 49th and 72nd Streets and spilled over into the side streets and to Second, Third and Lexington Avenues, where thousands more were halted at police barricades, far from the sights and sounds of the demonstration.

Crowd estimates are often little more than politically tinged guesses, and the police did not provide one. Organizers said that more than 400,000 people attended and, given the sea of faces extending for more than a mile up First Avenue and the ancillary crowds that were prevented from joining them, the claim did not appear to be wildly improbable.