Dozens of protesters were arrested after they gathered in front of the White House to call for the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the war in Afghanistan nears the start of its ninth year, a group of anti-war protesters gathered in front of the White House today to express their disappointment that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not yet over, and to request a meeting with President Obama.
An estimated 500 people from different anti-war groups gathered on the sidewalk in front of the White House. A few chained themselves to the fence, some laid down on the sidewalk as if they were dead, and others chanted: "mourn the dead, heal the wounded, end the war!"
The protest was peaceful, though U.S. Park Police said that 61 people were arrested for failure to obey a lawful order after the crowd was repeatedly asked to move back from the sidewalk. According to Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser, all were cited and released.
Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, was among the protestors, and was one of those who were arrested. She said she had not been a supporter of President Obama or of Sen. John McCain during last year's election but said protestors were running out of patience. "I think the mood of the country and the mood of our movement is getting a little bit more desperate, and (that) this will be the time to be able to translate our tireless activism and work for peace," she said.
Sheehan added that President Obama has been in office long enough to start working towards peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that his supporters want him to make those changes.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that neither he nor the president were aware of the protest until it was mentioned in the daily briefing to the press, adding: "I think the president has long believed that whether your opinion is on one side of this issue or the other, that this is the greatness of our country, is that you get to amplify that opinion."
Thank you Cindy. You and your son are true American hero's.
Peaceful protesting is a protected right! They have as much right out there as the tea partiers do! Just keep it peaceful! Only in America! P.S.. Sheehan IS politcal! She pondered a run for Congress and she is a far liberal. That is her right and it is also fact! P.P.S. How can ONE person speak for the ENTIRE left or right movements? Ridiculous to even think that!
Cindy Sheehan and the others have every right to protest under our Constitution, and she will not be demonized by "mainstream media." Most of these commentators have no clue, and the protesters in this case have very good reasons to protest a war of choice based on false premises (WMD for those who want shorthand). The teabaggers, of course have exactly the same Constitutional right but sadly, most of their facts are simply incorrect and fictional.
Cindy Sheehan is, at least, putting herself out there for something she believes in, besides, her own greed! Try it sometime all you nay-sayers. She truly believes she must try to save the lives of those still serving. With all the evidence that this "war" was brought about by lies and greed; what else is she to do?
If Cindy thought that her son had died saving our country from terrorists she would not be there. I can't believe they are arresting these protesters, that's so wrong!
I am thankful that Cindy Sheehan is protesting. I am also thankful that president Obama is taking a deliberate and well considered approach to the issues and not a knee-jerk fold or all-in move.
There are good arguments on all 10 sides of this issue, let's argue them all carefully and without name-calling. Then make the best decision.
I support the President's handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think his priorities are correct and he is doing the best he can with the mess Bush left him. That said, I respect Cindy and values she is defending. She is a brave woman who acts on her beliefs, and she is not fighting an imaginary enemy like many of the conspiracy-crazed tea baggers. People really are dying over there (on both sides), and life really does matter.
I like these protesters better that the tea party people. They unlike the tea party punks stick to the issues. I can live with that. This is why we have the first amendment!
Hopefully, more people will join these protests. It is insane that the U.S. is borrowing money to fight unnecessary wars. Unemployment is approaching 10%, record bankruptcies, foreclosures continuing, nearly 100 banks have failed this year . . . and we're spending more than $10 billion a month of borrowed money to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Empire is destroying the U.S. economy. When people look back at why America fell from greatness - this will be one example among many!
I agree preseident Obama need to end this war
I consider the Afghan War to be a street gang war. We need to execute Biden's theory and when we have more time, we'll execute the entire comprehensive plan. We can always come back for the McCain plan on Afghan. Geez, the country is not going to go anywhere.
Afghan is a dirty street gang war. The real war we need to focus on is IRAN. At all cost, we need to stand ready to shred their nuclear plans and bomb them to the stone age. Trust me, it's better to fight Iran now then when they have NUKES around their necks.
Bottomline, we dont have money so Afghan has to wait until we recover. We can always come back and kick the street gang warriors (Taliban)'s butt!!!
By the way, why should we stabilize Afghan for Russia, China and Iran. Iran HATES the Talibans and those rogue street Islam gangs. Let them run around and drive Iran, Russia and China crazy...
Apply the Biden Plan!!!
The problem is that, indeed, Bush started the Afghan war with a clear goal: Capture Osama Bin Ladin, disrupt the al Qaida's network within that country, thus disrupting the network elsewhere, and bring the purpitrators of the 9/11 attacks to justice... but we as a nation lost that clear goal.
We became mired down in the politics of fear giving us "the war on terror", and we became distracted with the unrelated conflict in Iraq. Our eyes are wide shut, and we as a united nation will see beyond the petty politics and find the path anew.
When is this do nothing president going to keep his word. End the war and send home our troops!
Good idea. Let's pull out of Afghanistan and let the people who attacked us run the country. That will really deter them from attacking us again. When did our country decide that their should be rules when fighting a war. If we are attacked, we need to seek out and destroy the enemy. Yes, innocent people will die. Maybe people in other countries will take notice and not allow terrorists to live freely in their country.
You people who talk for the woman's kid who died make me really angry. Who do you think you are that You have precidence over the soldier's Mother?? For all the people on here who are soldiers and defend the war, no offense, but you are getting paid money to go over there and fight and kill. You are not doing it for free and you Wouldn't do it for free. I respect people who fight for this country, but lets face it, this is a business war paid for by the American Taxpayers and with American lives. I am thankful to people who protest, whatever it is they are protesting. They have the true American spirit and the guts to make themselves known.
I am always saddened when I hear stories of Nazi Storm Trooper attitudes towards freedom of speech. More so when I see actions being taken to limit this right.
I was, and in some ways always will be, a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. When I hear that people are being arrested for exercising their rights I begin to wonder if FOREIGN battlefields are where our soldiers are really needed....
Cindy's fifteen minutes are up. Not any of want Bush's wars, but we have to use common sense to get our troops home. President Obama is working hard on this.
It's amazing that even though the protesters were arrested, and CNN covered both this and teabagging, somehow, it is a combination of the President and CNN's fault.
People should be asking themselves what they can do for their country. And I don't mean those in uniform or supporting the troops in Afghanistan.
Whats funny is most of these people probably voted for Obama.
Wars exist. They always will.
The USA would not exist had there not been a war.
We will not survive without future wars.
National bounderies are drawn and maintained by wars.
Human beings are aggressive. Aggression is necessary for human survival, and aggression ensures the survival of the strongest.
The denial of the goodness of aggression is a large component of the socialistic influence that infested our country in the early twentieth century and caused the economic crisis we now experience.
Curtis that is 100% untrue. Sheehan was arrested September 3, 2005, in front of the White House.
What the protestors don't realize is that the US is engaged in a hugely important geopolitical power play that will determine which countries will control the distribution of the remaining fossil fuels. Like it or not, fossil fuels are the lifeblood of our civilization. The outcome of this struggle will determine whether we sink into third world status, and whether freedom will continue to reign here and around the world. Our soldiers’ blood is hardly being shed in vain. The administration and the media aren't telling the public the truth lest they cry "No blood for oil." The public is just too naive, and Cindy Sheehan is doing harm to our country. We need to support our government, not rally against it.
Americans have to realize that Al Queda and the Taliban want to ultimately control Afghanistan and Pakistan. They hate everyone and their ultimate goal is to terrorize people in India, Europe and USA.
The USA and its allies need to nip the root of the problem.....stop the recruiting of young Afghani men into these terrorist groups. We should have a military that is devoted to educating the people about the horrors of these groups and help these communities with building their villages etc.
Dropping bombs only encourages recruitment by the Al Queda.
What are we supposed to do just leave Afghanistan? What do you think will happen then?
Dennis, you watch too much of Fox news. CNN did cover the Tea Party.
Just goes with the territory. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your personal liberty for a while to be heard.