With a modest disability check that may be cut off within weeks and severe health problems after doing two tours of duty in Iraq, “I don’t know what to do to bring in income,” said Adkins, 32.
The closure of monuments throughout the city has been one of the most visible symbols of the shutdown.
“They are our memorials, and they belong to us,” said Steve Nevels, who drove six hours from West Virginia to participate in the demonstration. Nevels, 39, said he helped take down some of the barricades that were blocking the World War II Memorial, where the group started its march at about 8 a.m. Protesters then made their way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial before converging at the White House shortly before noon.
They carried “Impeach Obama” signs and waved yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” American Revolution-era flags before moving on to the U.S. Capitol a few hours later. The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, with a few short clashes between police and protesters in front of the White House as officers put up temporary fencing along the sidewalk.
U.S. Park Police estimated there were 100 to 200 protesters and said there were no arrests.
Michael Ashmore drove 24 hours from Texas for the march. The 24-year-old former Marine served four years in Afghanistan and said his disability benefits stopped about a week ago.
Ashmore says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is “living one day at a time” without his disability check.
Politicians, Ashmore said, “just need to get their priorities straight and look out for everybody else instead of themselves.”
At about 3 p.m., Adkins prepared to wrap up his protest and head back home to his family. Holding back tears, he said his household has cut back on expenses, spending money mostly on diapers and formula for his son.
“Stop being petty,” Adkins warned lawmakers. “We’re talking about childish games that are affecting the American people.”