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."
This Mother has every right to protest the ILLEGAL war that took her son's life. The Iraq war was nothing but a BUSH WAR, OIL WAR. The American parents are the ones who lost, and lost big time. The only winners in this illegal war was Corporate America. At least President Obama is bringing an end to the Iraq situation. Print this one CNN!
As a SOLDIER I can tell you that the last thing WE want is protests. WE want SUPPORT! I NEED people to realize I have a 2 1/2 year old son at home who needs me to be strong, willful, and motivated for him. I have to set the example for him. My husband and I are both in the military PROUDLY. I am willing to die to give you the chance to hate me, please consider the message you're sending to us. I know the world is highly contested about the wars, but that is not my fault or problem. I am concerned with doing what I believe is best, which is serving, living and possibly dying so you can do what you please. We love you, don't hate us.
She protested Bush everyday without getting arrested....then she shows up one day at the Obama White House and they arrest her for lying on the sidewalk. Gary
And to those saying under Bush she wouldn't be arrested, that's bull. She was arrested for not staying off the sidewalk. Had she stayed off of it, there would be no news of this.
And to those saying to pull out of Afghanistan, the reason why we are in there is because we did just that after the soviet invasion. We let the country crumble after fighting a proxy war for the USA. History people, learn it.
I understand her frustration. Cindy please let people get their lives together. I want you to do some meditation and clear your head you will feel a lot better. I have been anti-war all the way and your friends in CA (California) are really sweet. I will pray for peace. Your Son did his bit, I wish you could influence people where I live for peace. Obama was anti-war, I can try to write a letter to Mr. Obama for you Cindy and out of the goodness of my heart.
Freedom of Free Speech is my first amendment right.
So Please Cindy.
God doesn't control everyone, every protester is different and Cindy is a sweet person, with a strong heart for her son.
Didn't the draft end in 1973? Did this soldier's mother think her son was signing up to join a fun camp that just hands out perks and benefits without any risks involved?!
Tell the world General McChrystal lied to the American people 2 years ago over the death of the fooball star Pat Tillman. How can we trust him?
Bravo for Cindy Sheehan. She and her son were certainly betrayed by GWBush and Dick Cheney's criminal regime. Nevertheless, she is out there working hard to ensure that Barack Obama does not betray him and thousands of others who will die for nothing in Afghanistan and Iraq in coming years. It's time to end this.
what she is upset about her son died because off a lie i can see why she is upset
Yeah, I support our Pres but he DID state his ideas regarding Afghanistan in the campaign so people like me who voted for him need to remember that. I don't like that agenda; I do support most of his other agendas. I definitely want Iraq "over" ASAP. Nothing wrong with any protest unless people are using them to promote their racial hatred and agendas instead of protesting actual events through the use of facts. I don't think these people here had a negative agenda and are entitled to their feelings.
As I recall, her loss was not her son, but her step-son. The young man's real parents are not involved in all this. She is just doing this for the publicity, in my opinion.
I respect Cindy Sheehan's plee for troop withdrawals. But she must respect the honor of her son. He died to make her safer. So Cindy, don't let your paid override what your son stood for. Go home and begin a new life.
Cindy has turned into another nut. I am a "lefty" and have never liked Cindys grandstanding. And those of you yelling to leave Afghanistan, PAY ATTENTION what is going on there. IF we leave now, it will be much worse than before we went in there. PAY ATTENTION. Afghanistan is the REAL "war on terror". We have to stay for now.
Cindy Sheehan is just a crazy woman who wants the spotlight since her son was killed. Out of the 3000+ mothers who have lost children to war, how many put the jist of blame on the government. Seriously, her son wanted to join the army and he knew wat was ahead of him, but I guess she doesn't know how to deal with life. So even though it is Bushes fault for starting the war, it shouldn't be Obamas for not withdrawing all of the soldiers because then it would've been a waste of life for the men who sacrificed their ives, and anyways the main deal is not Afghanistan where there is an actual cause to get rid of the taliban, so half of you are the ignorant scum that are always embarressing other americans.
Cindy, while I respect her for what she did during W's reign, needs to understand that these wars do need some time to play themselves out. The majority of troops are out of Iraq and are now in Afghanistan where they should be. The majority of terrorists are on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. It's important that they are defeated. We did a good job by stopping a terrorist attack in NY. I trust the President and what he is trying to do. It's not a winnable situation, like Sec. Gates stated, we have certain goals to achieve, and we must make sure to execute and destoy Al Queda the best we can. I may hate this war, but President Obama has to finish the mess that W left him, the first of many messes this president has to clean.
Here she goes again !
I agree, who wouldn't want peace. Unfortunately, it comes at a high cost to pay. It's easier said, than done. We can't erase the mistakes of our past administration and walk away from the war; it will not vanish with a swift decision and snap of a finger. This is something which will take time, planning and strategy. Regardless of whatever decision is made, I fear inevitably remnants of our past mistakes will linger for future generations. So, considering our current circumstances, Obama gets my approval.
As a mother my heart aches for all mothers who have lost children in any war we have been involved in. But I also hope we as citizens stand with our President as he contemplates where we go next. He is surrounding himself with smart people; getting the best advice and will not make any rash decisions but rather will make a smart decision based on analysis and thought with a real plan. He needs our support.
Hmmmm, I thought there were only war protests against Republicans? But ....... they're protesting a Democrat!!!!!
And even WORSE. CNN reported on it ........
I wonder how False News is going to try and spin this one.
Maybe they'll try to claim Obama got the unions to strong arm the protest groups to protest so the Democrats look better. ANd CNN threw in just to help.
Yeeeeeeah. Thats the ticket.
How dare they protest the president they must be racist just like Jimmy Carter said. Hence the white masks, I see the connection.
How about fox news today. President Obama made a speech about healthcare and they didn't even show it. They did however point out before they cut away that all the doctors were hand picked. President Bush would have had doctors there who supported his idea too. It's called Politics people. I want to thank CNN for airing the speech. You report and let us decide.
For all of those who are in favor of war, send me your address and I'll mail you some army recruitment pamphlets. You can catch the next plane to the Middle East. God bless Cindy and God bless America. I would gladly stand up to defend her, because the only thing I will fight for is peace.
Ram the healthcare bill through because the sky is falling but take your sweet time getting the war strategy "right" while our troops die.
God bless you Cindy, and all who stand against both of these illegal occupations. The War Party grinds on,and it is up to the people to stop it.
We marched against Bush and we will march against Obama until every soldier is brought home.
Obama isn't doing anything he campaigned on. The joke is on the liberals!