KTLA News, March 22, 2009
HOLLYWOOD -- About 4,000 people took to the streets of Hollywood Saturday to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The march was part of a nationwide "Day of Action" on the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Similar rallies were being held in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The demonstration was sponsored by the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and Los Angeles Iraq Veterans against the war. It began with a rally around noon at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.
Among the protesters were "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in action, former Marine Ron Kovic, and Academy award-winning director and screenwriter Paul Haggis.
Kovic has spent 41 years in a wheelchair after a bullet pierced his spinal cord during the Vietnam War. He is also the author of the book "Born on the Fourth of July," which was made into a movie by Oliver Stone.
People in the crowd held placards with peace signs and anti-war slogans such as "Out of Iraq" and "End the War." Activists spoke from a flatbed truck, which served as a stage.
During his speech, Kovic asked President Obama to stop funding the Pentagon budget, and direct funds instead to programs for veterans and the unemployed. He also called for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the rally at Hollywood and Vine, protesters marched for about 1.5 miles down Hollywood Boulevard chanting anti-war slogans and carrying 40 mock coffins draped in the flags of America, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The event finished with a symbolic "die in" led by Kovic at Hollywood and Highland in front of the Kodak Theater. All the demonstrators laid down in the street there briefly.
There were no arrests stemming from the protest, and no property was damaged.
The demonstration in San Francisco turned ugly when a large group of protesters started throwing sticks and water bottles at police. Several people who were pushing and shoving police officers were detained.
Barriers were then erected to separate police and the protesters, and the activists quickly dispersed.
Activists in both Los Angeles and San Francisco said they were encouraged by Obama's plan to withdraw 100,000 troops from Iraq, but many were disappointed by the increased troop deployment to Afghanistan.