Several hundred protesters and veterans, many in wheelchairs, descended on the National Mall Sunday to rally against the closing of war memorials across the country.
Several hundred protesters and veterans, many in wheelchairs, descended on the National Mall Sunday to rally against the closing of war memorials across the country — one of the most symbolic consequences to come out of the government shutdown that’s spanned nearly 13 full days.
Joined by Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, demonstrators pushed through barriers at the World War II Memorial, chanting “tear down these walls,” and singing God Bless America. Some carried the metal barricades a half-mile to the White House, where the protest spilled over. One Confederate flag was seen waving in front of the fence.
“keep them open!” Veterans chant at the White House. pic.twitter.com/L4qtZneuxg— Whitney Waters (@WhitneyWaters14) October 13, 2013
“Veterans have proven they are not timid, so we will not be timid in calling out any who use our military, our vets as pawns in a political game,” Palin told the crowd, organized as part of an event called the Million Vet March.
Outside the White House gates, police on horseback clashed with protesters, though no one was arrested.
“This is the people’s memorial,” said Cruz, who in the lead-up to the shutdown staged a 21-hour quasi-filibuster against the Affordable Care Act. “Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep people out?”
The government shut down on Oct. 1 due to a budget impasse over President Obama’s signature health care law–Obamacare.
In addition to memorials, other federal activities–such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH,) food banks, and Head Start programs–have been shuttered. Eight hundred thousand federal employees have also been furloughed.