Drumbeat in Seattle: "Stop the war now"

Disc jockey Romey Rom has seen a lot of protests and parades pass the radio station at 26th Avenue and South Jackson Street where he's worked for seven years.

He's seen Ethiopians, Somalis, gays and lesbians march for rights and protection.

He and his friend Henry Bolar stood outside station KYIZ Saturday and watched about 2,000 war protesters march, chant and sing their way through the streets to two military recruiting centers in a nearby strip mall.

"It's good," said Bolar, who said he was a local rap artist. "This one is organized."

The protesters -- among tens of thousands nationwide to participate in such rallies -- surrounded the Army and Navy recruiting storefronts at 2301 S. Jackson St.

They pressed against police, who blocked the closed storefronts with bicycles, and chanted "Stop the war now" to a drum accompaniment.

When police retreated around the corner, protesters continued to chant and then shouted "Shut down by people power."

One protester was arrested on investigation of a misdemeanor assault for hitting an officer on the arm, said Lt. Scott Bachler of the East Precinct. The person was released, and the protest was otherwise peaceful, police said.

Many in the crowd continued on to the Langston Hughes Center to hear anti-war speakers, including Lt. Ehren Watada, who is facing a court-martial Feb. 5 for his refusal to deploy to what he calls the illegal war in Iraq.

Protesters carried signs against the Iraq war, President Bush, oil, greed and tyranny, and in support of GI resistance, bringing the troops home, Watada, social services, justice and jobs.

Buddhist monk Gilberto Perez of Bainbridge Island and 5-year-old home-schooler Julian King both said they were there to support "peace." Seventeen-year-old Rachel Shelton of Monroe and Newcastle resident Frank Irigon were there to protest the war and the escalation.

"The war is just messed up, and we need to get the troops back now," Shelton said.

Compared with other marches and demonstrations, Romey Rom and Bolar said, Saturday's was well-organized and policed.

The biggest rally they ever saw from their perch on Jackson was the march for immigration rights that drew more than 25,000 people in April, they said. The most fun is the Soul Fest parade every summer, they said.

"That's the most joyful," Bolar said. "But I can't say I've seen a bad parade."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com