A small group of anti-war activists gathered outside the White House Wednesday to show solidarity with the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush last weekend.
Members of the theatrical protest brigade Code Pink left several dozen pairs of shoes in front of the White House to represent some of the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed during the war in Iraq, and they called for the release of Muntadar al-Zaidi. It was Bush, they said, who should be in jail.
"It's not enough to throw a shoe at him, he needs to be hauled before an international court and charged for war crimes," Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin said.
The event also had elements of street theater as the dozen or so protesters who showed up took turns hurling their own footwear at a Bush impersonator. It was quite the cathartic event for some of the demonstrators, who have frequently expressed their outrage at the president's abuses of power and misguided foreign invasions.
"We love our Constitution and we hate what you've done to it. And we also hate what you've done to the Iraqi people, George," Benjamin said as she prepared to throw two shoes at another demonstrator wearing a Bush mask. "This is on behalf of the Iraqi people, especially the women who have been hurt by your policies, George. And this one is for the children, George, who have suffered in Iraq."
Reporters far outnumbered the demonstrators standing on a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, but organizers seemed satisfied with the turnout.
"It's a success only insofar as we help to keep the story alive," Benjamin told RAW STORY.
Judging by the 40 to 50 reporters and photographers beaming the story around the globe, it seems pretty clear the protest lives up to that standard.
There was an appreciable level of irony in a group of anti-war protesters who celebrate non-violence gathering to champion the cause of a man who assaulted a world leader.
Rain Burroughs, an anti-war activist who traveled to the protest from Richmond, Va., said she found it "refreshing to see someone stand up" on behalf of Iraqi civilians who had been killed, even though she traditionally espouses the value of nonviolent action.
Benjamin said some Code Pink members were wary of championing al-Zaidi, but she said his actions have to be placed in context of the country where he lives.
"We've gotten a lot of our people who've called us and said ... it seems too violent for us, and we say, 'You're not living in Iraq. You're not suffering in your daily life," Benjamin said in an interview. "I mean, were I an Iraqi, I don't know that I would still be a nonviolent person. So this is actually a less violent act than one might expect."
Exclusive video and photos from the event appear below: