About a dozen war protesters were arrested Tuesday morning during a peaceful demonstration against President Bush’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly.
They were among about 400 protesters opposing the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and its incarceration in Guantanamo Bay of more than 300 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. Many in the crowd wore orange jumpsuits in solidarity with the Guantanamo detainees.
Police took the demonstrators into custody after they knelt on the sidewalk in an act of civil disobedience at the rally near the United Nations. One of them, 58-year-old Bill Ofenloch, said they were trying to serve an “arrest warrant” on Bush for “high crimes against humanity.”
Members of the anti-war group Code Pink performed a bit of street theater where a person wearing a Bush mask was arrested.
“What do we say?” shouted Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin. “Arrest the criminal!”
The crowd picked up the chant. Once the arrests were made, the rest of the group began marching downtown. The demonstrators, in orderly fashion, walked along the sidewalks because they lacked a permit for a street march.
In his speech, Bush announced sanctions against the military dictatorship in Myanmar, accusing it of imposing “a 19-year reign of fear” that denies basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship.
A White House spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the protest.