More that 150 Christian activists were arrested yesterday during protests around the District on issues ranging from apartheid to Central America, D.C. police said.
Police said there were 165 arrests. However, spokesmen for the activists said that arrests totaled 248.
The arrests, at the White House, the State Department, the Supreme Court, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Soviet and South African embassies, took place without incident, they said.
"What we are doing is leaving our churches and going out into the streets to proclaim our biblical message," said Dennis Marker, a spokesman for the Sojourners, the Washington-based group that organized the protests.
The Sojourners, founded in 1971, mixes a Christian message with political stands against nuclear arms, apartheid in South Africa, the death penalty, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and U.S. military involvement in Central America. The group, which is best known for its "Sojourners" magazine, also opposes abortion.
The protests climaxed a weekend "Peace Pentecost" conference that drew people from across the nation and Canada. On Monday, 250 persons attended a workshop on nonviolent civil disobedience in preparation for yesterday's protest.
A midday crowd estimated by U.S. Park Police at 2,000 gathered in Lafayette Park to sing songs and hear speakers. Breaking into six groups about 1:30 p.m. they departed for the various government buildings carrying banners that said: "Choose Life -- All Life Is Sacred."
Robert Kaeiser, 54, a social worker from Manitowoc, Wis. said he was marching to the White House to protest the nuclear arms buildup.
"I've got a daughter who is 18 years old and is just graduating from high school," he said. "She tells me she and her friends don't think they're going to live long enough to get married and have children and that bothers me somewhat . . . . The bombs we are building have done something to the quality of our lives."
The demonstrators circled the White House and halted in front of the north fence where they sang and prayed. The group split, with those who planned to try to get arrested remaining on the sidewalk and others moving across the street.
A Park Police officer gave the group of 72 persons on the sidewalk three oral warnings, advising them they were in violation of the conditions of their demonstration permit.
When the group did not move, the arrests began.
The protesters walked cooperatively to police wagons and several tour buses used to transport them to the Park Police Anacostia operations facility, where they were booked.
The scenario was similar at the other locations, where the protesters were charged with demonstrating in restricted areas.