Anti-war protesters march in Kennebunkport

August 25, 2007

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine --Even though President Bush wasn't in town, hundreds of anti-war protesters including Cindy Sheehan marched by the Bush family compound on a scorching, muggy Saturday.

"This is really energizing to be with people who want this war to end," Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq, told the cheering crowd. "We can't put our signs away and sit on our couches. We have to press Congress to end this war."

Activists from a number of states came to a local school to begin a two-mile march to the Bush summer home at Walker's Point. Along the way some pounded drums, chanted and carried signs and banners with slogans such as "Don't Pay for this War" and "Care for Vets."

Police gave no official crowd count, but other observers estimated that at least 1,200 demonstrators turned out. One of the marchers, Alice Copeland Brown of Canton, Mass., said about 3,000 people were there.

Brown said her son has recently returned from duty in Iraq, but others are not coming home alive. Brown said billions of dollars are being wasted on the war that could be used for schools, health care and other public services.

"Our children are dying for nothing," she said.

Dick Nelson of Lebanon, N.H., said he was visiting Maine and decided to come to the rally with his 16-year-old daughter, Andrea.

"It seemed like our civic duty," said Nelson.

A small-scale Vietnam Wall-like monument, listing the names of the soldiers killed in Iraq, was set up on the school's sports field where the protesters assembled. Organizers included veterans' peace groups.

After the march, the Indigo Girls musical group entertained the demonstrators at the rally site.

Some protesters called for Bush's and Vice President Dick Cheney's impeachment, but others had more moderate messages of support for the troops and opposition to the war.

"You can support the troops and not support the war," said Anne Chay, whose son is serving in Iraq.

Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, who was also a frequent visitor to Maine during his 2004 campaign, told the crowd, "We simply have to get out of Iraq. We have to end this war."

Organizers had previously hoped to draw as many as 10,000 protesters to the rally.

Observers said verbal skirmishes with some of the counter-protesters broke out along the march route, but no violence or physical confrontations were reported. As many as a few dozen counter-protesters were said to be in the area.