WASHINGTON - Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who became a leader of the anti-war movement following her son's death in Iraq, was arrested Monday along with dozens of others protesting outside the White House.
Sheehan, carrying a photo of her son in his Army uniform, was among hundreds of protesters who marched around the White House and then down the two-block pedestrian walkway on Pennsylvania Avenue. When they reached the front of the White House, dozens sat down - knowing they would be arrested - and began singing and chanting "Stop the war now!"
Police warned them three times that they were breaking the law by failing to move along, then began making arrests. One man climbed over the White House fence and was quickly subdued by Secret Service agents.
Sheehan, 48, was the first taken into custody. She smiled as she was carried to the curb, then stood up and walked to a police vehicle while protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching."
About 50 people were arrested in the first hour, with dozens of others waiting to be taken away. All cooperated with police.
Sgt. Scott Fear, spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, said they would be charged with demonstrating without a permit, which is a misdemeanor.
Park Police Sgt. L.J. McNally said Sheehan and the others would be taken to a processing center where they would be fingerprinted and photographed, then given a ticket and released. The process would take several hours, he said.
Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in an ambush in Sadr City, Iraq, last year. She attracted worldwide attention last month with her 26-day vigil outside President Bush's Texas ranch.
Smith reports Sheehan was taken into custody after she staged a sit-in at the White House.
The demonstration is part of a broader anti-war effort on Capitol Hill organized by United for Peace and Justice, an umbrella group. Representatives from anti-war groups were meeting Monday with members of Congress to urge them to work to end the war and bring home the troops.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush is "very much aware" of the protesters and "recognizes that there are differences of opinion" on Iraq.
"It's the right of the American people to peacefully express their views. And that's what you're seeing here in Washington, D.C.," McClellan said. "They're well-intentioned, but the president strongly believes that withdrawing ... would make us less safe and make the world more dangerous."
The protest Monday followed a massive demonstration Saturday on the National Mall that drew a crowd of 100,000 or more, the largest such gathering in the capital since the war began in March 2003.
On Sunday, a rally supporting the war drew roughly 500 participants. Speakers included veterans of World War II and the war in Iraq, as well as family members of soldiers killed in Iraq.
"I would like to say to Cindy Sheehan and her supporters: Don't be a group of unthinking lemmings," said Mitzy Kenny of Ridgeley, W.Va., whose husband died in Iraq last year. She said the anti-war demonstrations "can affect the war in a really negative way. It gives the enemy hope."