Police arrested two Nobel Peace
prize winners along with more than 60 other people protesting
on Wednesday near the White House against the U.S.-led war in
Police handcuffed Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who won the
prize in 1976 for peace activism in the Northern Ireland
conflict, and Jody Williams, a 1997 winner for her work to ban
land mines, after they refused to leave Lafayette Park opposite
the home of the U.S. president.
Uniformed Secret Service police arrest a protester, who passed the barricades to demonstrate against the war in Iraq in front of the White House Wednesday, March 26, 2003. British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives in Washington Wednesday, then heads to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., to meet with President Bush. (AP Photos/Rick Bowmer)
The Nobel laureates were detained along with religious
leaders and Vietnam-era protester Daniel Ellsberg as they sat
in a circle in the park and chanted "Peace, shalom." They held
roses as well as gruesome posters showing civilian casualties
from the war.
Maguire told Reuters before being taken away that she
planned to stage an anti-war protest each day outside the White
House until April 18, Good Friday on the Christian calendar.
"In Northern Ireland we were encouraged to resolve our
problems with dialogue and I would like to see that happen
here," added Maguire, who said she had asked President Bush to
Williams hugged Maguire before they were both handcuffed
and loaded into a police van.
"This is what our democracy looks like," shouted Williams
to reporters when she was handcuffed by police.
A spokesman for the U.S. Parks Police said nine people had
been arrested for crossing a police line opposite the White
House and that the rest were held for protesting without a
permit. "We expect them all to be released within a couple of
hours," he said.
Ellsberg, a former Marine and high-level military analyst
who leaked Pentagon secrets about the Vietnam war to the press
in 1971, was cheered by supporters who stood behind police
barriers when he was led away.
Catholic and Methodist bishops and a leading rabbi were
also among those arrested in the demonstration, which was
organized by the Catholic group Pax Christi.
Bush was not in the White House at the time of the protest
but in Florida for a briefing on the war at Central Command
headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base.
About 250 opponents of the war protested in Tampa, a few
miles away from where the president addressed troops.
The protesters, who came from across Florida and
represented a host of anti-war and civil rights groups, could
see Air Force One with Bush aboard landing at MacDill as they
gathered for the rally.
"The people of Florida say no to war," Mauricio Rosas, a
spokesman for the coalition, told reporters.
In New York, 16 anti-Israel demonstrators were arrested on
Wednesday morning after chaining themselves together across
Fifth Avenue near 47th Street and disrupting Manhattan traffic
for about an hour, police said.
Protesters were splashed with fake blood and wore t-shirts
saying "Witness to Israeli War Crimes."
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd