Sixty-one anti-torture protesters were arrested outside the White House on Thursday in a planned act of mass civil disobedience at the end of an event organized by Witness Against Torture and Amnesty International.
The protesters -- wearing black hoods and orange jumpsuits -- were part of a larger group of 150 that marched in a slow procession from the Capitol to Lafeyette Park across from the White House to protest the torture of detainees held in U.S. counter-terror efforts. Before the group of 61 triggered arrest by blocking the sidewalk outside the White House, speakers in Lafeyette Park demanded that the Obama administration close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and investigate and prosecute officials of the previous administration who crafted harsh interrogation policies.
"This is the 101st day of the Obama administration and Gitmo is still open. That's why we're here," said organizer Frida Berrigan to the legion of detainees. "The only way to decisively break from the Bush administration is to indict those responsible" for torture.
One protester held a sign that played on Obama's campaign slogans. It said, "The Audacity of Torture" and "The Audacity of War Crimes."
"Obama presumably has to listen to the progressive wing of his party. He certainly does risk alienating his base on this issue," said WAT spokesman Jeremy Varon to the Huffington Post.
The orange-clad protesters marched toward the White House, following military-style orders from Carmen Trotta, who was wearing camo fatigues. (Varon said Trotta does not have military background.) The protesters displaced two eighth-grade classes from Michigan posing for class pictures at the White House fence.
The arrests begin as an officer tightens the cuffs on Trotta, then everyone else. WATCH:
The protest is wrapped up as a police officer neatly folds the protesters' banner and the last members of the group are loaded into paddywagons. WATCH:
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