A rally with appearances from conservative stars Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz escalated into a tense situation Sunday, as veterans protesting the government shutdown clashed with police, taking down barricades blocking the closed World War II Memorial and dumping them outside the White House.
The group, upset with the closure of memorials in Washington due to the shutdown stalemate, was organized by the Million Vet March, but it soon took on a more political tone.
According to NBC News, the president was in the White House at the time the protesters arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Video from cameras on the White House lawn showed people carrying barricades, presumably from the WWII memorial, to the fence. The DC Police Department said via Twitter that they were on the scene with the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police.
NBC News desk assistant Brittany Marshall reported a sizable police presence moved protestors away from the White House fence. News 4's Derrick Ward said the crowd dissipated shortly thereafter with some people getting on buses to leave the area.
Members of the Million Vet March planned on gathering at the World War II Memorial on Sunday despite the memorial being closed due to the government shutdown.
According to a statement on the group’s website, they feel military personnel and veterans are “being used a political pawns in the ongoing government shutdown and budget crisis.” Organizers say they are not a political leaning group, but call the shutting down of memorials “a despicable act of cowardice.”
However, conservative political commentator Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) arrived and spoke to the people gathered at the memorial.
"This is the people's memorial," Palin said. "Our veterans should be above politics."
Ward reported some truckers who have attempted to slow beltway traffic this weekend as a protest measure made their way down to the Tidal Basin area. Police blocked off roads in an attempt to keep streets clear.