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Protesters disrupt Senate floor debate

March 12, 2008 at 6:13 PM

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- Anti-war protesters temporarily halted proceedings on the U.S. Senate floor Wednesday by yelling slogans that interrupted budget resolution debate.

"We are from the National Campaign for Non-Violent Resistance," the group chanted repeatedly as Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., was speaking, The Hill reported.

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., debate floor manager for the Democrats, asked the sergeant-at-arms to remove the protesters. Capitol Police officers removed at least 10 protesters from the chamber after they shouted at lawmakers to stop funding the war in Iraq.

The disruption lasted about 10 minutes.

Security officers tried to clear news media from an adjacent hallway, prompting an exchange during which reporters questioned officers for keeping them from reporting the scene.

The exchange brought Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, who listened to Capitol reporters complain about being barred from witnessing how police handled the protesters.

Gainer said inhibiting the media from covering the protest was "not the message" the Senate wanted to send.

"I never would expect our officers to manage the press while they're engaged in their duty," Gainer said. "To the extent we were imperfect, we will try to improve."

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