Soon after protesters arrived, police cordoned off the sidewalk area in front of the White House and moved them into Lafayette Square, students and witnesses said. More than a dozen students, along with a Howard English professor, sat along the fence and refused to move, said Marcus Ware, a third-year law student and one of the protest’s organizers.
The protesters felt strongly about their right to position themselves against the White House fence, other witnesses said.
Police gave the students and the professor three warnings to move, before arresting them, Ware said.
Twelve people were arrested for failure to obey a lawful police order, and the professor was arrested for crossing a police line, said Sgt. David Schlosser, a U.S. Park Police spokesman.
Protesters were later allowed back in front of the White House.
Several Howard student groups had organized protests over the pending execution of Davis, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer. Davis is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m., and many around the country and world are weighing in, including religious leaders.
“We weren’t being aggressive,” Ware said.
Some students and other activists are hoping the White House will intervene. “We fundamentally believe the death penalty is wrong,” he said.