Bloomberg News

Smithsonian Space Museum Closed After Scuffle With Protesters

October 08, 2011

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington was closed today after a security officer used chemical spray to thwart the assault of another when about 150 people converged to protest the use of drones.

The guards were attempting the stop the protesters from entering the building, John Gibbons, a Smithsonian spokesman, said in a telephone interview. One security guard was held against the wall by demonstrators, he said. Several were treated at the scene for respiratory distress after another guard released the spray, and one woman was arrested.

A group called “Stop the Machine” may have organized the protest, which began about 3 p.m., Gibbons said. The demonstrators were protesting an exhibit containing a drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, Gibbons said. The U.S. has used drones flown remotely by pilots during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for surveillance and to fire weapons.

One protester carried a sign saying “Don’t let the government put blood on your hands,” with the word “hand” replaced with an image, Gibbons said.

The Museum is expected to open at its normal time of 10 a.m. tomorrow, Gibbons said.

--Editors: Ann Hughey, Christian Thompson

To contact the reporter on this story: Carol Wolf in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at

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