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Nobel Winners Arrested at White House War Protest
Published on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 by Reuters
Nobel Winners Arrested at White House War Protest
by Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON - 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 Iraq.

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)
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.

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 meet her.

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


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