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US Government Shutdown Draws Array of Protests

The partial U.S. government shutdown is forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay home, restricting or shuttering government services, and sparking protests calling for lawmakers to end the budget impasse.

With no spending plan for the fiscal year that began October 1, the shutdown is about to begin its third week. With it, Americans are finding popular national parks closed and delays on services like getting home loans.

The effects have sparked protests in big cities and small towns.

At Valley Forge National Historic Park near Philadelphia, runners turned out Sunday to protest park closures and fines for those caught on the grounds.

Sunday in Washington, a few hundred people at a rally called by the conservative "tea party" movement tore down barricades erected at closed monuments and memorials on the National Mall. They took some of the barricades to the White House along with signs critical of President Barack Obama.

Some critics charge the Obama administration ordered popular public sites closed in an effort to maximize the effects of the government shutdown for political gain.

Republican Congressman Ted Cruz, a "tea party" favorite, spoke to the crowd at the National World War Two Memorial.

"Let me ask a simple question: why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?"

Demonstrators also went to the U.S. Capitol on Sunday to voice their criticism of Congress, which has repeatedly failed to agree on a budget and relied on so-called continuing resolutions to fund the government for several years.

Protests have brought out federal workers in cities like Chicago, Boston and Atlanta, and citizens in Plano, Texas; Newton, New Jersey and Springettsbury, Pennsylvania.

More demonstrations are planned for this week. Tuesday, religious leaders and federal workers plan to visit lawmakers' offices on Capitol Hill.

At least one American is not waiting for lawmakers to act. The shutdown has kept groundskeepers from working on the National Mall, but a South Carolina man showed up last week and began mowing grass, raking leaves and picking up trash around the grounds that hold many monuments and memorials. His actions have inspired others to join his civic-minded mission to maintain the sites as the federal shutdown drags on.

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