WASHINGTON – Two Nobel Peace Prize winners, two bishops and Vietnam War activist Daniel Ellsberg were among those arrested near the White House in antiwar protests Wednesday. More than 100 demonstrators in Florida denounced President Bush during his trip to the state.
Protesters in Washington climbed over police barricades closing off Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, and sang and prayed until they were arrested. Police said 65 people were taken into custody. Protesters left behind some roses and pictures of Iraqi civilians that they said represented those who could die in the war.
Those arrested included Nobel laureates Mairead Corrigan Maguire of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement and Jody Williams of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, as well as Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Detroit archdiocese; Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church in the Chicago area; Dave Robinson, national coordinator of Pax Christi USA, the Catholic peace movement, and Ellsberg.
Ellsberg is best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers, a top secret Defense Department study on the Vietnam War that he considered proof that American officials were lying about chances for victory. He said he hoped that his willingness to get arrested might encourage someone in the federal government to release more information about the war with Iraq.
"There are people who could prove the falsity of this war," Ellsberg said.
Bush was in Tampa, Fla., visiting the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, housed at MacDill Air Force Base. About 150 demonstrators protested in the city's downtown waterfront district.
"This war is so unjust. There is popular support against it," said Audrey Colombe, 44, of Tampa, who carried a sign saying: 'War is not the answer.' "I can't sit at home and do nothing."
In New York, 16 antiwar protesters, linked by handcuffs, were arrested for blocking a busy midtown Manhattan intersection near Rockefeller Center by lying down in the street.
In San Francisco, all 12 demonstrators arrested on felony charges during last week's protests in San Francisco had their charges dropped or reduced to misdemeanors. Overall, more than 1,500 people were arrested last week.
Supporters of the war demonstrated Wednesday as well. Around 200 Yale University students held a rally on campus. "Today we affirm that Saddam Hussein has lost," Yale junior Michael Anastasio told flag-waving supporters.