On February 15, 2003, thousands of citizens join an enormous march from Seattle Center to the International District to protest plans for war against Iraq. Estimates of the number of Seattle participants range from 15,000 to more than 50,000. Millions more march in coordinated protests in New York, Los Angeles, London, Rome, Paris, Melbourne, and other major cities around the world. Smaller local rallies are held on Whidbey Island and elsewhere to express support for U.S. military personnel and policies.
Participation Exceeds Vietnam War Protests
The demonstration began with a rally at Seattle Center. Protesters then moved down 5th Avenue to Pine Street, where they turned west to 2nd Avenue, and then proceeded south to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Center in the International District. The latter target was chosen to dramatize claims of that many Middle Eastern immigrants have been improperly incarcerated during the federal government’s “war on terrorism” since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The procession required more than three hours to traverse 5th and 2nd avenues between Boren Avenue and Airport Way S. Crowd estimates varied between a police count of 15,000 to organizers' claims of 60,000. Eyewitness reports suggest that 30,000 is a more realistic tally, making the march the second largest street demonstration in Seattle history after the November 30, 1999 anti-WTO rally and larger than any local Vietnam War protest in the 1960s or early 1970s.
Several hundred citizens rallied at Oak Harbor, on Whidbey Island, and in other Washington communities to express their support for servicemen and women and for official U.S. policy, which advocates military action against Iraq to enforce United Nations resolutions banning its development or possession of weapons of mass destruction.