More Than 150 Arrested at Iraq Protest
WASHINGTON -- Thousands of protesters marched Saturday from the White House to the Capitol to demand an end to the Iraq war, leading to the arrests of at least 150 people.
Many of the protesters were arrested without a struggle after they jumped over a barricade near the base of the Capitol. But some grew angry as police attempted to push them back using large black shields and a chemical spray. Protesters responded by throwing signs and chanting: "Shame on you."
Before arriving at the Capitol lawn, the demonstrators marched on Pennsylvania Avenue holding banners and signs and saying, "What do we want? Troops out. When do we want it? Now."
Counterprotesters lined the sidewalks behind metal barricades. There were some heated shouting matches between the two sides.
At the Capitol lawn, some protesters lay down with signs on top of their bodies to represent soldiers killed in Iraq.
The protesters gathered earlier Saturday near the White House in Lafayette Park with signs saying "End the war now" and calling for President Bush's impeachment. The rally was organized by the ANSWER Coalition and other groups.
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan told the crowd is was time to be assertive.
"It's time to lay our bodies on the line and say we've had enough," she said. "It's time to shut this city down."
Army veteran Justin Cliburn, 25, of Lawton, Okla., was among a contingent of Iraq veterans in attendance.
"We're occupying a people who do not want us there," Cliburn said of Iraq. "We're here to show that it isn't just a bunch of old hippies from the 60s who are against this war."
About 13 blocks away, nearly 1,000 counterprotesters gathered near the Washington Monument, frequently erupting in chants of "U-S-A" and waving American flags.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert "Buzz" Patterson, speaking from a stage to crowds clad in camouflage, American flag bandanas and Harley Davidson jackets, said he wanted to send three messages.
"Congress, quit playing games with our troops. Terrorists, we will find you and kill you," he said. "And to our troops, we're here for you, and we support you."
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., made a surprise visit to the counterprotest, which was organized by Gathering of Eagles, a nationwide nonpartisan organization founded this year by Vietnam war veterans.
"We're a people of faith, courage and fidelity," said Hunter, a 2008 presidential candidate. "It's for this generation that we will win this war on terror."
Associated Press writer Christine Simmons contributed to this report.
© 2007 The Associated Press