NEW HAVEN, Conn. --
Thousands of Connecticut activists jumped on a "Peace Train" that glided out of Union Station Saturday morning, bound for a protest in New York City against a war with Iraq.
Bruce Martin, from the Milford-based Promoting Enduring Peace, said a coalition of Connecticut peace groups filled 17 New York City-bound passenger train cars with almost 2,000 people.
Eighteen chartered buses from Hartford, Litchfield, Middletown and Willimantic also carried Connecticut protesters to the city.
Standing in the doorway of a train car poised to leave, State Rep. Bill Dyson, D-New Haven, said he was going to the rally to voice his dissatisfaction with the way Washington is handling the situation with Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein.
Omar Farooq, of New Haven, right, gestures while boarding a chartered train in New Haven, Conn., Saturday Feb. 15, 2003 for a peace rally in New York City. (AP Photo/Douglas Healey).
"I am adamantly opposed to war," he said. "And I think the high terrorist alert is part and parcel of gearing up for war. They're trying to scare the hell out of everyone and create hysteria."
Protestors carried signs aboard the train reading "No War for Oil," "Not in Our Name," and "War is Old." On the platform, they chanted, "President Bush has got to go!"
Demonstrators walked from Grand Central Station to the U.N. headquarters where they congregated against the backdrop of flags from the 191 U.N. member nations.
The scene in Manhattan was anything but calm, protesters said.
"Fifty-first street is just a crush of bodies," said Wade Linebaugh, 15, of Chester. "The energy is insane."
Richard Platt, 69, of Milford, said he believes pre-emptive war is un-American.
"While Saddam has terrible weapons and may be an awful person, he hasn't made any specific threats to anyone," said Platt, a member of the Unitarian Society of New Haven and a veteran of the armed services.
Anti-war protests were held worldwide Saturday, with at least a million people turning out in both London and Rome. Crowds also congregated in Australia, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, Austria, Bangladesh, and other places.
Participating in anti-war activities was a good thing for all Americans to do, said Brian Festa, a 53-year-old high school teacher from Branford.
"I haven't met anyone who totally supports a war in Iraq," he said. "They're either directly opposed to it, or they're so-so. I don't believe we're in any imminent danger from Saddam, whereas the opposite is true with North Korea."
He said he hopes the peace rally in New York puts pressure on Congress.
"I think the turnout will be a wake-up call to them," he said.
"Based on what President Bush had said so far, I think this would be an unjust war," said Erin Johnson, 19, of Branford, a student from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. "And I don't there's enough reason to go to war."
Linebaugh said he traveled on the Peace Train with friends because he feels his opinion is important.
"I think what Bush is doing is wrong," he said. "Changing the regime in Iraq and meddling in other people's business. It's just wrong."
© Copyright The Associated Press 2003