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article imageProtest in Washington to mark 7th anniversary of Iraq invasion

By Chris Dade     Mar 21, 2010 in World
Police made at least five arrests in Washington DC on Saturday as an anti-war protest took place in the city on the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The arrests, put at five by CNN and eight by the Washington Post, were made by police when protesters laid down on the sidewalk in front of the White House.
Among those arrested for failing to obey a lawful order - protesters may not stop when passing by the White House - were Iraq War veterans and the prominent anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose own son was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.
The arrests came at the end of a march which had seen a number of protesters carrying what the Voice of America says were "symbolic coffins", draped in the flags of countries in which the U.S. has a military presence.
Much of the anger of the protesters - numbering 10,000 according to the protest's organizers and 2,500 according to police - was directed at former U.S. President George W. Bush and his Vice-President Dick Cheney.
However a number of protesters, identifying themselves as people who voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election, reportedly expressed disappointment that President Obama has not ended the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and has in their eyes brought little change from the policies of his predecessor.
Cindy Sheehan even referred to President Obama as a "war criminal" whose "honeymoon" is over and is receiving "a free pass" he doesn't deserve.
Brian Becker, national coordinator for the A.N.S.W.E.R (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) coalition, which organized the march, is quoted as saying:A huge part of the antiwar movement has been focused on the Bush administration and its policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush is gone. Millions of people thought his exit would mean an end to these wars. Instead, after one year of real-life experience, they're far from ending
Support for the Palestinian cause was seemingly also in evidence among the marchers as signs decrying the financial cost of warfare were on display. Those signs demanded that the money currently being spent on military operations abroad be spent by the U.S. government on healthcare, education and jobs.
The offices of Halliburton, the Washington Post, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs all received visits from the marchers.
While the Department of Veteran Affairs was accused of "woefully inadequate treatment" of veterans and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America of having members engaged in "predatory lending", at the offices of Halliburton it was the former CEO of the Texas-based energy services company, Dick Cheney, who was again the focus of the marchers' ire.
Addressing the protesters before the march began four-times Green Party/Independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader had labeled Dick Cheney and George W. Bush "fugitives from justice" and at the offices of Halliburton a dummy of the former man was ripped apart and trampled on.
As students on the march, such as 21-year-old Claire Papell from the State University of New York, spoke of their concern that money was being spent on war and not education Josh Stieber, a veteran of the Iraq War, talked of how his views had changed over time, leading him to become a protester for peace.
The Voice of America reports that he explained:I guess it was a process of waking up to what I was actually doing and just as I am helping set up all these memorials out here, I think back to some of the things that were part of my day to day life in the military even before I got to Iraq, just how some of our battle cries would be things like kill them all
H.K. Suh, a member of a group of Korean Americans campaigning for peace, offered his opinion on where he believes the U.S. government is going wrong. He said:You are sacrificing social programs, domestic programs here, which are being felt. We have high unemployment, and people are struggling in making ends meet. They are realizing that instead of all these wars overseas, they need to focus on here
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