Organizers from the Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 people took part, and Mayor Rocky Anderson said it was as big as any in the city since the Vietnam War. However, Salt Lake City police put the number at about 1,000 protesters.
Most walked peacefully from Pioneer Park to Washington Square, while others vehemently showed angry countenances and middle fingers. A skirmish at 400 South and 200 East led to the arrest of two juveniles - one for assaulting two of the dozen or so police in riot gear with a sign pole and the other for interfering with the arrest. Four more were arrested later for impeding traffic at the same intersection, according to Salt Lake City police Lt. Tim Doubt.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson led the crowd at the steps of the City-County Building in passionate cries, "No more lies! We want the truth!"
"We will not be quiet. We will not be obsequious, silent witnesses to the lies, to the tragedies, to the destruction being perpetrated by President Bush, his cronies and the United States Congress," Anderson said. "We will not sit idly by while this president and his friends devastate this country, destroy our relationships with allies, and so heedlessly and needlessly kill so many and reek so much tragedy in so many lives around this world."
Anderson also blasted the news media for "repeatedly and utterly betray[ing] its solemn duty to ferret out and provide us with the truth."
Amid the criticism was at least one voice in support of the president. Ross Andra, a 68-year-old resident of Salt Lake City, stood resolutely among hundreds who disagreed with him. Two men next to him tried to cover his sign, which read, "Bush stays the course, Rocky cuts and runs."
"You can't just move out of the war and leave a vacancy. Al-Qaida would move back in and we'd be in the same place as we began," he said. "Just because it's hard doesn't mean you pull out," he said.
At a makeshift memorial listing all of the soldiers who have died in Iraq, Dorothy Arriola of Salt Lake City walked slowly, wondering if those with Latino names signed up for economic reasons, like her nephew did.
"I've got two sons and three grandsons and I don't want to see them end up like this," she said.
Anderson said the protest was one of the biggest he's seen.
"To have this kind of a crowd in Utah where President Bush has enjoyed his greatest margin of victory in both of his elections is symbolic of what's going on nationwide. People are finally figuring out we've been lied to . . . and people in this country aren't going to stand for it anymore," he said.