Bombs raining on Baghdad drew thousands of protesters to streets in scores of U.S. cities. Some came in anger, some in sadness. Some burned the flag, some clung to candles in prayer.
Two of the largest and most unruly demonstrations came in San Francisco and New York, where crowds estimated at about 5,000 each lighted bonfires, marched, chanted and carried protest signs declaring "War Gives Us Gas Pains."In New York, demonstrators rallied outside the United Nations and marched to Times Square. Some clashed with police, leading to several arrests.
"I came out to join this because it is so sad," said Salah Saidi, 30, of Yemen, a store clerk. "Not only for me and my family but for all of us."
Early Thursday, a car slammed into a group of New York protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, injuring at least seven people, two critically, said police spokeswoman Sgt. Tina Mohrmann. Witnesses said one person fell over the side of the bridge and landed in a construction site.
The car's driver was arrested and charged with drunken driving, Mohrmann said.
"Peace, not violence," San Francisco protesters shouted at a few rowdy demonstrators in their midst who set a highway patrol car ablaze, causing it to explode. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was closed briefly for the third day by activists who blocked the way.
Seventeen-year-old Ryan Calwell of Seattle was one of those who set fire to an American flag in San Francisco. "Right now, the flag symbolizes the government, not the people," he said.
In the days leading up to the deadline for Iraq to pull out of Kuwait, public opinion polls showed two out of three Americans supported an attack on Iraq. But a USA Today poll Monday found most Americans very worried that many American soldiers might die in such a war.
In Washington, across from the White House, hundreds of protesters gathered Wednesday. A sign read: "Don't Bag Our Boys."
About 75 students at the University of Georgia in Athens lugged tents and sleeping bags out for an all-night peace vigil under a landmark gate that stands for wisdom, justice and moderation.
"Until peace is achieved, this is a peace camp. We're ready to sit here until there's peace in the Middle East," said Patrick Malone, the 40-year-old leader of Students Against War in the Middle East.
Hours before hostilities broke out in the Middle East, club-wielding police in Los Angeles arrested 158 anti-war protesters.
The protest turned tearful as demonstrators learned war had erupted.
"The people were just distraught. People were crying," said demonstrator Dave Tomlinson.
Twenty to 30 Palestinian students took the lead in a march through downtown Chicago and unfurled a 20-foot banner declaring, "No Blood for Oil!"
"One-thousand points of death," shouted protesters, recalling President Bush's "1,000 points of light" call for volunteerism.
About 10 counter-demonstrators marched around them, chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Honolulu police arrested about 15 people after about 150 flag-burning protesters blocked a road during afternoon rush hour. Protests also were staged in Boston, St. Louis, Nashville, Tenn., Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis.
In Portland, Ore., many of the estimated 5,000 people who joined a protest march said the fighting was over oil.
"This war is for profit," said John Joseph of Portland.
At the Federal Building in Providence, R.I., an effigy of Bush was burned in a 55-gallon oil drum to protest what many call the motive behind U.S. intervention in the petroleum-rich gulf.
In Philadelphia, 200 people demonstrated at the Liberty Bell.
"We don't want to bring our country out of a recession by sacrificing our young people," said Lance Haver, 35, of Philadelphia.
Peace protesters turned up in small towns as well. In Donaldsville, La., 500 gathered at a candlelight vigil to lament the outbreak of war.
"Everybody was upset. We have some families with two children over there," said Connie Landry of Donaldsville. "We started off with a prayer."