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Cindy Sheehan Arrested Before State-of-Union Speech

Cindy Sheehan Arrested Before State-of-Union Speech

Clarence Williams and Allan Lengel, The Washington Post

Activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested last night after demonstrating in
the spectators gallery of the House of Representatives as part of a larger
war protest that was held outside the Capitol.

Sheehan, who was apparently given a gallery ticket by a member of
Congress, began to attract notice about 30 minutes to an hour before
President Bush's State of the Union speech.

Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, opened her jacket to reveal a
T-shirt that, according to a supporter, gave the number of U.S. war dead and
asked, "How many more?"

She was also vocal, said U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer,
and after she ignored instructions to close her jacket and quiet down, she
was led out and arrested. Demonstrating in the House gallery is prohibited.
Sheehan's sister Dede Miller told a reporter that Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey
(D-Calif.) had invited Sheehan as her guest. Woolsey could not be reached
immediately for comment.

Late last night, about 50 protesters marched to the Capitol Police
station to demand Sheehan's release. One of them was arrested. Miller said
Sheehan was being processed early this morning.

Earlier last night, a band of banner-waving antiwar demonstrators
clustered outside the Capitol and took the start of Bush's speech as a cue
to let loose with an ear-splitting outburst of noise.

The group gathered at the statue of Ulysses S. Grant on the west side of
the Capitol grounds for the protest, which was organized under the slogan of
"The World Can't Wait — Drive Out the Bush Regime."

At the moment when a nearby TV set showed Bush beginning his address in
the House chamber, the protesters responded with bongo drums, maracas and

The protesters' Web site urged participants to "Bring the Noise and
Drown out Bush's lies."

As the president concluded, the noise reached a peak as protesters
banged pots and pans, shouting "Bush step down, people rise up."

At one point, demonstrators sang peace anthems of an earlier day,
including "Give Peace a Chance" and "All You Need Is Love."

One of the speakers at the rally before the outbreak of tumult
identified himself as Bill Mitchell and said his son, Army Sgt. Mike
Mitchell, was killed in Baghdad in April 2004.

"We knew this war was wrong from the beginning," he said, "and we are
not going to stop speaking" until the troops are brought home.

"We are going to demand that our government bring them home. We need to
bring an end to this insanity," he said as the temperature fell and the wind

A speaker identified as Ann Wright, who had served in the State
Department and as an Army officer, called on the protesters to organize for
this year's congressional elections as a means of stopping the war. "We've
got to put some spine into people who serve us right here," she said,
pointing toward the Capitol.

[Staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.]