Mrs Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, was among the first protesters to be arrested after about 200 of them sat in circles on the pavement outside the White House, close to Lafayette Park, in a act designed to provoke the police to act. The demonstrators, who had earlier swarmed around Mrs Sheehan in support, booed the police as they took protesters away and chanted: "The whole world's watching."
The demonstrators were charged with demonstrating without a permit, an offence which carries a $50 (£28) fine.
Mrs Sheehan made headlines and re-energised the anti-war movement this summer when she camped outside President George Bush's Texas ranch and demanded an explanation for the war which killed her 24-year-old soldier son, Casey.
Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for the group United for Peace and Justice, an anti-war coalition which was involved in yesterday's demonstration, said: "It's a very powerful protest to tell the Bush administration to end the war in Iraq."
Inside the White House, Mr Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan, parried questions about the protest, saying "It's the right of the American people to peacefully express their views."
The protests were part of a three-day anti-war campaign in Washington that included a demonstration on Saturday that drew more than 100,000 people.Reuse content