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UPDATE: 82 Arrested Outside White House, Hundreds Show Up to Protest War in Afghanistan

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I spoke with Elaine Brower, an organizer with the World Can't Wait, about today's protest outside the White House which end in a massive arrest of 82 people including David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan.

As she explained it, people began to show up to McPherson Square at 9:15 am. They put on orange jumpsuits and held up big signs of Gonzales, Cheney, and Bush. The press came over to talk to them and the crowd began to grow.

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Activists lined up around a fountain in the square to give the press a photo opportunity.

At 10:35 am ET, Brower left with a group that headed over to the White House so they could be present when Obama held his press conference on health care at 11:15 am ET.

They stood right outside the White House gate (and forced the White House press corps to find another way to get into a press briefing).

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The group chanted "Healthcare Not Warfare" and other slogans.

The police wound up chasing them off the sidewalk.

The press were interested in the 75 or more protesters who had gathered outside the gate. They were turning and looking to hear who was shouting "Bring the Troops Home", "Close Gitmo", etc.

As noon approached, the police became more and more intrusive. David Swanson was shouting about First Amendment rights and freedom of speech on a bullhorn as the crowd grew to somewhere between 200 and 300 people.

Brower sat in stress positions. She sat in a cage giving the press another great photo opportunity.

Different affinity groups were now set up outside the White House. Veterans for Peace had coffins. World Can't Wait setup a museum that involved a waterboarding demonstration and signs detailing walling, stress positions, etc through graphic photos.

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Members of Witness Against Torture chained themselves to the fence outside the White House.

The press took pictures and video and interviewed many of the protesters about torture.

The group of protesters began to participate in a reading of the names of those who died in Afghanistan. They chanted after a few names were read, "Mourn the dead. Heal the wounded. End the war," and then the names would continue to be read. They would chant again.

This went on for 45 minutes before the police on horses broke up the demonstration and pushed the crowd in the street behind a perimeter created with caution tape.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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