WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 — Several thousand protesters demonstrated here today against any military offensive in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and near Washington.
Sporting buttons that said "Don't Turn Tragedy into War" and "Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War," the mostly young crowd tried to walk a fine line between showing respect for the thousands of people killed in the attacks and outrage at what they knew of the Bush administration's war plans.
In contrast, an antiwar march here on Saturday led to the arrests of 11 protesters.
That protest had originally been planned against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, whose annual meetings were postponed after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Police officers used pepper spray to control some of the crowd.
The protesters today were largely peaceful, organized by the Washington Peace Center, which was founded by Quakers. They gathered under a gray sky at the Meridian Hill Park in Northwest Washington, then marched to Embassy Row without any arrests.
In speeches and pamphlets, the antiwar message today was as complicated at times as the war it is trying to prevent.
Several protesters argued that even American diplomacy was wrong-headed because the administration refused to call the attacks a criminal act and, instead, considered them an act of war.
Ernie Wells, 28, a picture framer from Danbury, Conn., said he traveled here with 50 other demonstrators who believed it would be better to find the terrorists and bring them to justice at the International Criminal Court than to send the military to bomb their training camps.
"This isn't a war, it is a crime against humanity so we should take it to the international criminal court," Mr. Wells said, adding that he knew the United States had refused to join the court.
Justin Davis-Metzner, 29, a Howard University student, came with his mother, Jackie Davis, who had been part of the antiwar and civil rights movements of the 1960's and 1970's.
"I wanted the world to see that not everyone in the United States wants a war of revenge," said Mr. Davis- Metzner, looking at his mother.
Ms. Davis said, "I'm here because I'm one of the original peaceniks. I can't stay away whenever there is talk of war."