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The Washington Post

Opponents of Iraq War Plan Series of Protests in Capital

Michael E. Ruane

Antiwar protesters said yesterday that they plan a series of demonstrations starting this evening and lasting through tomorrow that could disrupt traffic, hamper commuters and block access to some buildings in downtown Washington.0318 04

The actions, aimed to draw attention to the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, are directed at business, government, political and media centers that demonstrators blame for the continuation of the war, according to members of the United For Peace and Justice coalition, which is heading the protest.

Activists plan tomorrow morning to target the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service, at 12th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, which they said they hope to shut down. They said they will also protest at various corporations in the vicinity of K Street between 13th and 18th streets NW.

Antiwar military veterans plan a 9 a.m. march tomorrow on the Mall from the National Museum of the American Indian to the Capitol.

Other events -- including a die-in, a knit-in and a torture simulation -- are planned at the Department of Veterans Affairs, McPherson Square, Lafayette Square, the American Petroleum Institute and the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee on Capitol Hill.

Some activists plan a 9:30 a.m. "March of the Dead" from Arlington National Cemetery into the District, with stops at war memorials and the Department of State. Others plan to demonstrate at The Washington Post, local offices of ABC, CNN, Fox and United Press International and the National Press Building.

The protests are to begin at Union Station at 5:30 p.m. today with a "five minutes of stillness" demonstration, in which activists stand as if frozen.

Organizers at a news briefing yesterday said they are not sure how many demonstrators will show up. They noted that the protest is taking place on a workday. They said hundreds of protests are scheduled tomorrow across the country.

"We believe it will be an unprecedented day of action," said Lisa Fithian of the 5 Years Too Many coalition. "There will be people coming from almost 40 states to bring their message to those . . . that are promoting . . . and profiting from war.

"On one day, the anniversary of the war, we will intervene in their business," she said.

Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice, said the war has become one of the longest in U.S. history. "It is time to end this war and bring all the troops home," she said.

The IRS is being targeted for its role in funding the war. "You cannot collect our tax money and then hand it over to the government to use for death and destruction," Cagan said. "We will be . . . in front of the IRS literally attempting to block the functioning of the agency.

"We don't want to be back here next year," she said. "We don't want there to be a sixth anniversary."

Fithian invited the public to participate.

At the same time, she apologized. "We want to say to the people of Washington, D.C., those people who may be inconvenienced by our activities . . . we want to now extend our apology to you," she said. "Our intention is not to disrupt your day. But we ask that you keep things in context."

© 2008 The Washington Post

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