Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Jim Farris of Park City flashes the peace sign.

Three people were arrested and a half-dozen more cited as anti-war protesters clashed with police in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday.

But for the most part protesters were civil as they gathered to hear various speakers — the main attraction being Mayor Rocky Anderson.

One 17-year-old protester was arrested for allegedly assaulting two officers with a flag while another was arrested for obstructing justice. Still another protester was arrested on a similar violation, although police spokesman Dwayne Baird didn't know the exact circumstances. Others were cited for blocking traffic — one for sitting on TRAX light rail lines.

Like a prosecutor on closing arguments gunning for a conviction, Anderson laid out his case against President Bush for the some 2,000 protesters who turned out at the City-County Building downtown. The rally coincided with similar anti-war gatherings across the country, the biggest being held in the nation's capital.

The theme of the protest — and the substance of Anderson's case — was that Bush, his key administrators and a complicit media lied to the country about various aspects of the war.

Those lies, Anderson said, led the public to initially back the war.

"The people must insist on the truth from our elected officials and our news media," said Anderson, who sent out a mass e-mail last week urging people to attend the protest.

The crowd repeated Anderson's call over and over, "No more lies, we want the truth."

Anderson slowly built his case, touching on Bush's statement that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium from African sources — a claim that later proved inaccurate. He then moved on to the administration's claim that Saddam's government had chemical weapons. So far no such weapons have been found in Iraq. Early reports of Pvt. Jessica Lynch's rescue were also incorrect, Anderson said, accusing the media of not investigating certain claims and only regurgitating the administration's line.

"The media has failed us miserably," he said.

The mayor also noted early claims by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the war likely wouldn't last six months and a statement by Vice President Dick Cheney that the Iraqi people would welcome U.S. troops as liberators.

Many protesters called for the United States to bring the troops home.

Bush has said it would be bad policy to bring the troops home now because Iraq's new government needs the stability of U.S. forces. Iraq's government has praised Bush's decision, and many in Iraq have thanked U.S. troops for ending Saddam's reign. Many Iraq war veterans have similarly complained about the media, saying news reports focus on the negative and haven't brought to light the positive developments like new schools, new freedoms and new jobs for the Iraqi people.

There were a few counter protesters at Saturday's rally expressing support for Bush.

"Ross Anderson and Cindy Sheehan, you don't represent anybody but the fringe left," one sign said.

But with terrorism in Iraq continuing, many at the protest said now is the time for U.S. troops to leave. Many at Saturday's rally said the United States should respect the Christian principle of peace.

"It's time to wake up from the lies. It's time to wake up from the deception," Episcopal Rev. Dan Webster said.

One protester held a sign saying, "George W. Bush is a Category 5 Disaster." Another read: "Nutcase for Peace"— a reference to a comment by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that people who attended an Aug. 22 protest in Pioneer Park, which coincided with Bush's speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Salt Lake City, were "nutcakes."

Anderson was both criticized and praised for urging people to protest Bush's visit back in August.


E-mail: bsnyder@desnews.com