Accessibility links

Breaking News

Anti-War Protestor Sheehan Arrested

A leading anti-Iraq war activist has been arrested outside the White House for what supporters say was as an act of civil disobedience.

Anti-war protesters ended three days of demonstrations in Washington by congregating at one of the main gates to the White House.

Police asked them several times to move on, saying they were gathering in a restricted area. When they refused, they were arrested.

The first to be taken into custody was Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq and a leader of the anti-war campaign. She moved to the public arena last month when she staged a vigil outside the Bush family ranch in Texas, demanding a meeting with the president.

As her supporters applauded, she was taken away by police and was expected to be released after being processed on minor charges.

Although several hundred protesters took part in the demonstration, the whole event was orderly. Organizers announced their intention to stage an act of civil disobedience in advance, and did not resist arrest.

All this occurred as White House Spokesman Scott McClellan was preparing for his daily press briefing. When a reporter asked about the president's response to the protesters, Mr. McClellan said his attention was directed elsewhere.

"I don't know about what is going on out there right now. We are focused on a number of important and immediate priorities," said Mr. McClellan.

Mr. McClellan said, while the weekend demonstrations were underway, the president was keeping a close watch on hurricane rescue efforts along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The White House spokesman said Mr. Bush believes in the right to protest, but stressed he does not agree with the demonstrators that America should withdraw from Iraq.