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Anti-war rallies in Washington, New York

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A demonstration originally meant to protest the policies of global financial organizations became an anti-war protest in Washington on Saturday as hundreds of marchers called on the United States to reject a violent response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Chanting "no war, no war," protesters marched with banners calling for the United States to "Destroy imperialism, not Afghanistan."

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund canceled their annual meeting -- scheduled for this weekend in Washington -- after the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York's World Trade Center. The IMF/World Bank meetings have drawn violent protests in recent years.

A counter-demonstration also took place Saturday in Washington, but the two groups did not cross paths.

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Police said the demonstrators were mostly peaceful, but at one point officers used pepper spray to gain control of the crowd. Some arrests were made, but details were not immediately available.

Some protesters agreed that targeting those responsible for the terrorist attacks was the way to go, but not at the expense of the Afghan people.

"When someone in the United States commits an atrocious crime as in an act of murder, we don't go after their families or their community or their neighborhood," one demonstrator said. "We go in and we arrest the individuals involved, and I think that's what needs to be done here."

Anti-war rallies were held in other cities as well, including Chicago and New York, where 300 people held a peace march through midtown Manhattan. Since they had not sought a permit, no speeches were made and police kept the marchers on sidewalks.

"War is not the answer, Islam is not the problem," they chanted as they walked. Most of the participants appeared in their 20s. Along the way, they elicited both positive and negative responses from observers.

Former President Bill Clinton, in Washington to announce a new scholarship fund for survivors of the attacks in New York and Washington, said that the United States "has acted like anything but a warmonger in this."

"They can say what they want to say and do whatever they want to do because this is America," Clinton said, referring to the protesters. "And the people who did this to America would not permit them the same right. If they lived in Afghanistan, or if the future of the world of the Middle East was what Mr. bin Laden wants it to be, they would not be able to speak their mind."


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