NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) – An anti-war demonstration in Times Square that was meant to mark the eighth anniversary of the Iraq invasion quickly became a protest against the military strikes on Libya Saturday.
About 80 protesters gathered near the U.S. military recruiting center in Times Square, chanting “No to war!” and carrying banners that read, “I am not paying for war” and “Butter not guns.” A quartet of women in flowered hats who called themselves the Raging Grannies sang: “No more war, we really mean it!”
Other protesters carried placards showing pictures of women with bleeding children in their arms.
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., joined the protesters, saying he was angry that Congress was not consulted before the military strikes.
He said he was undecided on whether the military action against Libya was justified, but felt lawmakers and their constituents should have had time to weigh in.
“Our presidents seem to believe that all we have to do is go to the U.N. and we go to war,” Rangel said as a large television behind him at the recruiting station showed an advertisement for the Air Force with crews loading missiles onto fighter jets.
“Going to war is not a decision that presidents should make,” he told reporters including WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall.
More than 100 cruise missiles were launched Saturday from US and UK ships and subs against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s military as it waged a bloody battle against rebels, the Pentagon said. Twenty targets were hit. President Barack Obama authorized limited military action against the country in concert with allies in Europe and the Arab world.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall reports on the protests
Gary Maveal, 57, a law professor from Detroit who was visiting the city for a conference, said he feared the Libyan attacks would become a “quagmire.”
” We don’t have a good record of getting out of anywhere in a hurry,” he said. “We certainly don’t have the money for this.”
Joan Davis, 79, of Manhattan carried a sign that said, “War is stupid.” She said she felt Obama had rushed to attack Libya, and that the U.S. action would breed more contempt for the United States in other parts of the Middle East.
“This should have been a last resort,” she said. “This is going to make people who want to do us harm in Afghanistan and Iraq dig in their heels and say, `See, we told you so.”‘
Richard Machado, 20, a physics college student from Queens, was carrying a sign that read: “We will not be silent.”
“It doesn’t matter what we say to the government, they always want to bring us into war,” he said. “I haven’t seen any bit of progress in Iraq or Afghanistan, and now we’re going off on another tangent.”
Passers-by, meanwhile, said they had mixed emotions about the attacks on forces backing the Libyan leader.
“If you make yourself a dictator, you’d better expect these things,” said Josue Rivera, 37, a tourist from Boston. “I don’t like to see people die, but sometimes war is a necessary evil.”
Similar protests were planned Saturday to mark the start of the Iraq war in Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere. Over 100 anti-war protesters were arrested outside the White House during one of the demonstrations.
Among those arrested was Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon’s secret history of the Vietnam War.
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