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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Protesters Descend on the U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON -- A raucous and colorful multitude of protesters, led by some of the aging activists of the past, staged a series of rallies and a march on the Capitol Saturday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq.

Under a blue sky with a pale midday moon, tens of thousands of people angry about the war and other policies of the administration of President George W. Bush danced, sang, shouted and chanted their opposition.

They came from across the country and across the activist spectrum, with a wide array of grievances. Many seemed to be under 30, but there were others who said they had been at the famed war protests of the 1960s and '70s.

They came to Washington at what they said was a moment of opportunity to push the new Congress to take action against the war, even as the Bush administration is accelerating plans to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. This week, the Senate will begin debating a resolution of disapproval of the president's Iraq policy, setting up a dramatic confrontation with the White House.

Some protesters plan to stay and lobby their representatives in Congress. Other anti-war activists intend to barnstorm states this week urging senators to oppose the troop escalation.

Saturday's crowd was large and vociferous, but its size was unclear because there was no official crowd estimate. It was filled with longtime opponents of the conflict and of the administration.

"Its primary value is that it keeps up the pressure," said former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. "There is a sense that by summer, a march like this will be two or three times as large."

"Peace is controversial," civil rights and community activist Jesse Jackson, 65, said in a rousing address to the crowd gathered at the east end of the National Mall. "But so is war. The fruit of peace is so much sweeter."

The day's events unfolded peacefully. And after a cold morning with below-freezing temperatures, the day quickly warmed, and protesters were unzipping jackets as the mercury topped 10 degrees Celsius.

The crowd, while exuberant, seemed significantly smaller than the half-million people organizers said were present and may not have matched similar protests in September 2005 and January 2003.