WASHINGTON – Warning that George W. Bush’s war could kill, maim, or starve millions of Iraqi women and children and squander funds needed here at home, 10,000 women, many with their families, marched on the White House, March 8, chanting “Money for the homeless, not for war.”

The “Code Pink” protest, a “women’s pre-emptive strike for peace,” attracted busloads of protesters from as far away as Minnesota and Vermont. The women wore pink coats, sweaters, and berets and carried clotheslines festooned with pink underwear for delivery to the White House, a parody of color-coded Homeland Security. During a pre-march rally in Malcolm X Park, Medea Benjamin, an organizer of the march, said, “The majority of women oppose a war on Iraq. We’re determined to stop the Bush administration from putting our families at risk and inflaming anti-Americanism all over the world by attacking a country that has not attacked us.”

Gloria Johnson, president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), drew cheers when she decried the $200 billion cost of war on Iraq and the military occupation that follows. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to take that money and provide health care for the 47 million people who lack it?” Johnson demanded as the crowd cheered. “I am proud that so many women have come together to try to convince Bush that what he is doing is wrong. We are on to you,” she said, gesturing toward the White House.

Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, warned that Attorney General John Ashcroft is impugning the patriotism of anyone who protests Bush policies, “This is one patriot who doesn’t intend to be silenced by John Ashcroft.” she said.

Gandy, holding her daughter, Cady, on her lap, later told the World, “An enormous number of innocent Iraqi civilians would die” if the Pentagon unleashes its “Shock and Awe” attack. “More than half the population of Iraqi cities is children. And many of our own sons and daughters are in harm’s way as well. Iraq is destroying its weapons. The inspections are working.”

The threat of war, Johnson said, has impacted very negatively on the economy. Since Bush took office, more than two million jobs have been lost. Bush’s tax giveaways to the rich have eaten up budget surpluses and the states are now saddled with huge budget deficits, she said. “One reason Bush is pushing this war is that it is a diversion. He knows the economy is going to hell and his popularity is going down. He’s got to focus attention on the war. It’s all he’s got going,” Johnson said.

She assailed Bush for “trying to destroy “… all the programs to meet human needs … we are really in a sad state. This man with his war, his budget cuts, has got to go,” in 2004, she said.

The crowd flowed down 16th Street toward the White House beneath a sea of banners and placards. Twenty-five of the protesters were arrested when they defied Bush administration regulations severely curtailing the First Amendment right to “peacefully assemble.”

Audrey Nwanze, owner of the Mocha Hut, a small coffee shop in the capital, marched for the first time, accompanied by her four young children. “I think this is the most important time to be speaking out for peace,” she told the World “War could have an effect on our livelihoods. Our business goes down on the threat of war. War will affect the lives of my children and Iraqi children as well. One of my children asked me the other night, ‘If bombs destroy their homes, who will rebuild them?’”

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