Anti-this, pro-that, all convene at White House

AP News
Posted: Mar 26, 2011 2:56 PM
Anti-this, pro-that, all convene at White House

What do Yemeni violence, Bahrain's monarchy and genetically modified foods have in common?

All were the subjects Saturday of small but animated protests in front of the White House, where President Barack Obama was ensconced indoors on the other side of the fence.

The pedestrian-only strip of Pennsylvania Avenue, between the White House and Lafayette Square, often hosts demonstrators. Rarely, however, do so many interests bump into each other, literally, and generate such a cacophony of unrelated chants.

Under cool, sunny skies, the eastern-most circle comprised people demanding the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "Pray for Yemen" said a child's hand-lettered sign.

Next was a scrum denouncing Syrian President Bashar Assad. "Stop killing civilians," said one sign, as the group chanted slogans in Arabic.

Another circle of flag-waving people supported Bahrain's monarchy. "We love our government" one sign said.

Two women dissented nearby, displaying photos of slain protesters in Bahrain. "We met them with flowers," their poster said, "they met us with death."

The loudest group, thanks to amplifiers, protested the U.S.-led bombings of Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya. "Libya for Libyans, not for Wall Street dividends," they chanted.

Perhaps the largest group _ more than 50 people _ carried signs criticizing GMOs. Not to be confused with cars or federal agencies, GMOs are genetically modified organisms, which render some foods unsafe, the demonstrators said.

The biggest prop carried the most enigmatic message. An inflated elephant bore a sign demanding "the truth" about the September 2001 terrorist attacks, which it labeled "the elephant in the room."

Uniformed Secret Service agents, who have seen it all before, looked on calmly and seemed to enjoy the lovely blue skies.