Rallies mark third anniversary of Iraq war across Southern California

Thousands of anti-war activists were gathering across Southern California Saturday with several rallies and marches planned on the eve of the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Groups of activists were expected to converge in Hollywood at noon, where a star-studded cast of anti-war activists were set to address the rally.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby, 'Crash'"), Golden Globe nominee Maria Bello, Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic, actors Martin Sheen and Laura Dern were among those scheduled to address the anti-war rally.

"We want to put an end to this insane war and to spend money where it is needed, for example on the people hurt by hurricane Katrina," said Marcial Guerra of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), which organized the rally.

"Fund people's needs, not the war machine. That's one of our main slogans," Guerra said.

Caravans of activists were traveling in from suburban areas like Long Beach, Riverside and Ventura, and organizers expected at least 10,000 people at the rally, according to Guerra.

Meanwhile, people involved in "The California March for Peace" stopped in Los Angeles Saturday and planned to join the Hollywood rally.

The 677-kilometer march from Tijuana, a border city in Mexico, to San Francisco aims to "ensure that the Latino voice of opposition to the war (in Iraq) is heard loud and clear," according to organizers.

U.S. President George Bush earlier in the day used his weekly radio address to urge Americans to stay the course in Iraq and resist the impulse to retreat.

Anti-war activists and many Democrats have been pushing the Bush administration to come up with a plan to bring troops home from Iraq.

In the MacArthur Park near downtown Los Angeles, the American Friends Service Committee exhibited "Eyes Wide Open," a display of combat boots and shoes bearing the names of servicemembers who have died in Iraq.

More than 2,300 U.S. troops have died since the start of the war three years ago.

Source: Xinhua

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