Sheehan arrested in protest outside White House

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Cindy Sheehan was arrested along with hundreds of other protestors after failing to heed police admonitions to keep their demonstration against the war in Iraq moving along outside the White House.

Sheehan, the California mother who set up camp outside President Bush's ranch in Texas during the summer, rallied with others Monday in a park across the street from the White House and then marched to the gate of the executive mansion.

They sat down on the pedestrian walkway in front of the White House -- knowing they faced arrest -- and began singing and chanting "Stop the war now!"

Police warned them three times that they were breaking the law by failing to move along, then began making arrests. One man climbed over the White House fence and was quickly subdued by Secret Service agents.

'An honor'

Sheehan, 48, was the first taken into custody. She smiled as she was carried to the curb, then stood up and walked to a police vehicle as protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching."

"It's an honor to be arrested with this group of people," said Gary Handschumacher, 58, of Crawford, Colo., who was waiting for police to arrest him.

Sgt. Scott Fear, spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, said about 370 protesters were arrested over four and a half hours. All but one were charged with demonstrating without a permit, a misdemeanor. One person faced a charge of crossing a police line.

Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed last year in an ambush in Sadr City, Iraq. She attracted worldwide attention last month with her 26-day vigil outside Bush's Texas ranch.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush is "very much aware" of the protesters and "recognizes that there are differences of opinion" on Iraq.

"It's the right of the American people to peacefully express their views. And that's what you're seeing here in Washington, D.C.," McClellan said. "They're well-intentioned, but the president strongly believes that withdrawing ... would make us less safe and make the world more dangerous."

The protest Monday followed a larger anti-war demonstration Saturday that drew tens of thousands.

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