Nineteen people, including peace activist Philip Berrigan, were arrested yesterday outside the White House after 11 demonstrators scaled the front fence and poured human blood and red food dye on the North Lawn fountain to protest U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf.
Uniformed Secret Service officers took the 11 people on the lawn into custody and charged them with unlawful entry, destruction of government property and defacing government property, a Secret Service spokesman said.
Berrigan, 67, and seven others among the 60 demonstrators were arrested outside the fence when they did not obey a U.S. Park Police officer's order to disperse. After three warnings, they were arrested and charged with demonstrating without a permit. All eight later were released on their own recognizance, a Park Police spokesman said.
President Bush was not at the White House during the demonstration. He was still at Camp David.
The protesters ranged in age from teenagers such as Berrigan's daughter Frida, 16, who was arrested with him outside the fence, to Maurice McCracken from Cincinnati, who other demonstrators said was in his mid-eighties and had scaled the fence on a ladder.
The protest was organized by members and friends of two organizations that serve the poor, the Olive Branch Catholic Workers and the Dorothy Day Catholic Workers, and Jonah House, a peace organization in Baltimore that Berrigan helped found in 1973.
Elizabeth McAlister, a co-founder of Jonah House and Berrigan's wife, said 13 members of the groups were arrested during the summer when they poured blood and oil outside the White House to protest U.S. military intervention in the Persian Gulf. She said they had held vigils at the Pentagon on Friday and in front of the White House yesterday.
The three groups had been part of a retreat held over the weekend in Washington that included area residents and people from other states.
Homer White, who said he was finishing his doctoral studies in math at the University of North Carolina, said he hoped the demonstration would let the Bush administration know that "there's one more group of people opposed to the war."
"This is about money and oil, not democracy," said JoAnne Klemmer, of Reading, Pa. She said she believed the protest was successful because "they got over the fence."
The 11 climbers, some using a ladder and others getting a boost over from fellow demonstrators, scaled the White House fence shortly after 11 a.m., a Secret Service spokesman said.
Dorothy Day member Andrea Needham, a demonstrator who did not participate in any of the actions in which people were arrested, said the red dye was poured into the white circular fountain and "three or four" of the demonstrators poured small plastic bottles of their own blood over sections of the rim facing Pennsylvania Avenue.
The fountain was shut off soon afterward, but even before the protest ended about 1:30 p.m., workers were cleaning the fountain.