WASHINGTON — Marchers protesting the Iraq war tried to deliver a mock coffin to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, but police kept them off Pentagon grounds during a largely peaceful demonstration marking the war’s third anniversary.
A muffled drum and a ceremonial peace bell sounded along a route followed by about 200 protesters from the Lincoln Memorial to Defense Department headquarters across the Potomac River in Arlington, Va.
“No Iraqi is our enemy,” said Steve Cleghorn, 56, of Reynoldsville, Pa., of the group Military Families Speak Out.
Organizers worked with U.S. Park Police to select the demonstration route along a channel park just east of the Pentagon, where police set up a five-foot-high steel barrier on the edge of a parking lot east of the Pentagon grounds.
Demonstrators chanted, “Peace now,” as more than two dozen protesters crossed the fence in an orchestrated act of civil disobedience and were immediately taken into custody. They were cited for “failure to obey lawful orders,” a misdemeanor, said Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The coffin, draped in black bunting and decorated with photographs from the war, “represents the massive casualties we’re seeing in the war in Iraq,” said Gordon Clark, 45, of Silver Spring, Md., of the group Iraq Pledge of Resistance.
Activist Cindy Sheehan, who last year staged a monthlong protest outside President Bush’s Texas ranch, was not among those attempting to scale the barrier. Sheehan, whose soldier son Casey died in Iraq in 2004, said protesters were representing “millions of people around the world” who opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
“You know what is happening to this beautiful generation of American men and women,” said Katy Scott, 63, of Chicago, whose son, Peter, 29, enlisted after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. He lost an eye and an arm as a result of an Oct. 15 roadside bomb attack near Samara, Iraq.
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