Shoe-Tossing Protests Come to White House

By Theresa Cook

Dec 17, 2008 2:24pm

ABC News’ Theresa Cook Reports:  "’Cause I’m angry at Bush!" That’s why 9-year-old Selena Shea said she threw a flip-flop sandal at an effigy of the President outside the White House Wednesday, a nod to the Iraqi journalist who grabbed headlines around the world earlier this week after he threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad.

Shea was one of several protestors outside the White House gates who chucked footwear at a man dressed up in a striped jail uniform emblazoned with hot pink "war criminal" labels and an oversized headpiece fashioned to look like a cartoonish George W. Bush.

About ten protestors attended the event, in which the anti-war group CodePink set up rows of shoes to commemorate those who have lost their lives in Iraq and to show "solidarity" with Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the group, said the "symbolic act of throwing of the shoe," considered a major insult in the Arab world, has caused people around the world to reevaluate the "success" in Iraq. 

The group regularly protests Bush administration policies on the Iraq war, and has called for President Bush and other administration officials, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, to face war crimes charges.  CodePink members are known for their attention-grabbing tactics, such as loud protests at hearings on Capitol Hill, heckling political candidates and an attempt to handcuff former Bush adviser Karl Rove during a speech.

Another protestor, Iraq Veterans Against the War Washington chapter president Geoffrey Millard, expressed dismay that al-Zaidi could face a prison sentence for "insulting, not assaulting" the President.  Al-Zaidi remains in the custody of Iraqi authorities after a court appearance in Baghdad.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, sporting a shiner from the shoe melee, said Tuesday that "the President harbors no hard feelings about the incident," but that the decision of how to punish the journalist is in the hands of the Iraqi government.

The protestors, surrounded by a media throng that outnumbered them by about four to one, raised their voices over noisy leaf blowers and sidewalk sweepers manned by the White House grounds crew, which is regularly seen maintaining the nearby lawn and sidewalk during the day.

While the event went on, the President’s helicopter, Marine One, could be seen arriving and departing from the South Lawn of the White House.  The chopper transported Bush to Andrews Air Force Base, where he left to give remarks at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Penn.

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