WASHINGTON - Mounted police charged in to break up an outdoor press conference and demonstration against the Iraq war in Washington on Thursday, arresting three people, organizers and an AFP reporter said."The police suppressed the press conference. In the middle of the speeches, they grabbed the podium" erected in a park in front of the White House for the small gathering, Brian Becker, national organizer of the ANSWER anti-war coalition, told AFP.
The charge caused a peaceful crowd of some 20 journalists and four or five protestors to scatter in terror, an AFP correspondent at the event in Lafayette Square said. No one appeared to have been hurt.
Three people -- Tina Richards, the mother of a marine who did two tours of duty in Iraq; Adam Kokesh, a leader of the Iraq Veterans Against the War group; and lawyer Ian Thompson, who is an organizer for ANSWER in Los Angeles -- were arrested, Becker said.
The ANSWER coalition is trying to rally support for an anti-war demonstration in Washington that is due to take place on September 15.
Last month, the movement was threatened with a fine of at least 10,000 dollars unless it removed posters in the city announcing the September 15 march.
Washington city authorities have said the posters had to come down because they were stuck on with adhesive that did not meet city regulations.
"At our demonstration today we were showing the media that the paste we use conforms to the rules," Becker said.
"One of our activists was making a speech when the police barged in and grabbed the podium. At that point, Tina Richards started to put up a poster, so they arrested her and two others."
"This strategy of suppression has not worked. We expect many tens of thousands of people" in Washington for the September 15 anti-war demonstration, he said.
The march has been timed to coincide with the release of a report by the US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and will be part of a week of protests led by veterans of the Iraq war.
A petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, allegedly carrying one million signatures and endorsed by former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, will also be submitted to officials during the week's activities, ANSWER has told AFP.
© 2007 Agence France Presse