WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cindy Sheehan and about two dozen fellow anti-war activists were arrested on Monday for refusing to leave the office of a Democratic lawmaker after calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Before police escorted her away, Sheehan, who emerged as a leading peace activist after her son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004, announced what she had earlier suggested — that she will be a candidate for the U.S. Congress next year.
Sheehan said she will challenge House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. Pelosi has refused calls to start impeachment of Bush and Cheney for what critics charge was misleading the United States into war.
The new Democratic-led Congress has been hit with approval ratings of less than 25 percent largely because of its failure to deliver on a campaign vow to withdraw troops from Iraq.
Sheehan was among more than two dozen protesters led away in plastic handcuffs after they refused to heed repeated calls by U.S. Capitol Police to depart the office of Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“What do we want? Impeachment. When do we want it? Now,” Sheehan and other protesters chanted while seated on the floor of Conyers’ office following her private meeting with him.
Hundreds of others in the hallways cheered on the protesters. Many sang, “We shall overcome.”
Conyers had raised the possibility of impeaching Bush more than a year ago while Republicans were in charge of Congress.
But Pelosi nixed the idea during last year’s campaign that saw Democrats win control of the House and Senate, saying she wanted to concentrate efforts on ending the war.
“The speaker is focused on changing course in Iraq by bringing our troops home safely and soon and refocusing our effort on protecting Americans from terrorism, holding the Bush administration accountable and setting a ‘New Direction for America,’” said Brendan Daly, Pelosi’s press secretary.
When Sheehan and others arrived on Capitol Hill they were confronted by a number of backers of the war. One held a sign reading, “Patriots want victory in Iraq.”