WASHINGTON – A crowd converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday morning, pushing past barriers to protest the memorial’s closing under the government shutdown.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Mike Lee, of Utah, along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were among the demonstrators.
Cruz and Lee are among the tea party-backed lawmakers who refused to keep the government operating unless President Barack Obama agreed to defund the nation’s health care overhaul.
“Let me ask a simple question,” Cruz told the crowd of hundreds. “Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?”
Black metal barricades have lined the front of the memorial since the government closed Oct. 1. More than 300 National Park Service workers who staff and maintain the National Mall were furloughed.
As the crowd entered the memorial plaza, they chanted “Tear down these walls” and “You work for us.” They sang “God bless America” and other songs.
The memorial has become a political symbol in the bitter fight between Democrats and Republicans over who is to blame for the shutdown. Earlier rallies have focused on allowing access for World War II veterans visiting from across the country.