Sunday morning, 2,000- 3,000 veterans, family members and citizens gathered at the at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. There, the veterans took apart the barricades set up by Park Police to keep visitors out of the WWII Memorial, placed the barricades on their shoulders and carried them away.
The protestors who included veterans of the Korean, Vietnam, WWII, Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, took those barricades and carried them about 3/4ths of a mile to a side walk in front of White House and piled the barricades there.
The protest, had several facets to it, but began as a push back against the closure of open-air memorials in Washington D.C. as a result of the government shutdown. As we have reported, these veterans are furious, saying that these memorials are being closed down in order to inflict pain on veterans and their families. Already, WWII vets taking part in Honor Flights, have pushed past these barricades to enter the memorial.
“Part of the reason we are out here is because the government is refusing to pay for soldiers funerals” one protestor told our reporter, Sonya Sandage.
In addition to the memorials being closed down, $100,000 dollar payments are no longer being made to the families of soldiers who are killed in combat. The growing list of soldiers who have died in combat include 5 U.S. soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan just over a week ago. The payments, however, are not being made because of the government shutdown. The U.S. government provides these payments to help to pay for funeral expenses and travel for family members.
It is important to note that over the past two weeks, the Republican Congress, who has initiated the government shutdown has passed a bill that would reinstate these payments. But that bill cannot get an up or down vote in the Democratic controlled Senate.
For the most part Sunday’s protest was incident free. There was one moment when 4 protestors who put their backs against the iron gate in front of the White House and linked their arms through it. One police officer in riot gear attempted pull the protestors off the fence but as the crowd seemed to become angry, the officer appeared to back away. About 25 horse mounted Park Police also kept a close eye on the protestors but again, without incident.
Video of the march:[youtube height="400" width="550"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHdNtEvDfu4[/youtube]
Police show up:[youtube height="400" width="550"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD5KMm-pCZA[/youtube]
Here are some additional pictures from the protest: