- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (UPI) — Two people were injured in a minor scuffle with police and 16 others arrested during a second day of anti-war protests Sunday as several thousand people staged a demonstration a block from the White House.

Police firmly but gently pushed back anti-war protesters trying to scale a fence encircling Lafayette Park, a traditional place for protests of all kinds. Singing and carrying signs with slogans like "Bush is an Empty Warhead," hundreds of protesters lined up in the freezing weather to cross the fence with the goal of being arrested. They wanted to use their arrests as a way to register their disagreement with the Bush administration's threats of war against Iraq.

No one appeared to actually make it across the fence but two people were hurt in a sudden scuffle as police moved to clear the street a few yards from where the fence-crossers were waiting.

The protesters had stopped trying to cross the fence, pending negotiations for permission to enter the park without interference. The discussions with police mirrored the generally low-key tone of the afternoon in which protest organizers met in discussion groups to decide who would get arrested and coach inexperience demonstrators to talk gently to the police by name. Some people brought their children and pets.

The crowd had actually started to disintegrate at about 2:30 p.m. ET when police suddenly started pushing people forcefully off the street and back towards the sidewalk. A police spokesman had told a caucus of protest organizers some 45 minutes earlier that their permit time was up and the that they would start clearing the street at 2 p.m.

Injured was Clara Sinclair. Other demonstrators told United Press International she was in her 80s and a member of a Quaker retirement community in Sandy Springs, Md. Laying near her on the ground — holding his head, glasses askew — was an unidentified man in his late 40s to early 50s who had been in the organizational meeting earlier. Sinclair, who demonstrators said had hit her head, lay immobile as police carried and dragged dozens of prone protesters out of the street, at times nearly dumping them on the two injured people.

Police did not initially respond to protesters kneeling near Sinclair who were yelling for medical assistance. After several minutes one policeman paused, directed his attention to the two, and made a call on his radio. A doctor from the crowd who was assisting Sinclair was shortly joined by a police paramedic who asked her questions relating to her coordination. Two ambulances arrived and a backboard and neck brace were in evidence as they prepared to move her.

As of 3 p.m., a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police said, they arrested 16 persons for crossing a police line. All were being processed and would be released.

The demonstration Sunday capped a weekend of protests in Washington. Tens of thousands of marchers took part in the demonstration Saturday, which was coordinated by International ANSWER, Act Now to Stop War & End Racism. Additional protests were held in San Francisco and 32 other countries.

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