No Jail Stripes for Brandi 

Brandi Swindell: freelancing religious activist

You knew Brandi Swindell was a Christian activist. But maybe you didn't know she freelances for other religions, too.

Last month Swindell was arrested in front of the White House for protesting with members of the Chinese Falun Gong sect, a religious group that feels persecuted by the Chinese government. So when President Bush hosted Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House, it was Swindell who marched into the restricted area at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and got cuffed for it. It was her sixth arrest, she said.

"I wanted to send a message to the White House," Swindell told BW. "I could have stayed in Idaho and done a demonstration in front of potato fields, but I wanted to go to the White House."

The conflict between the Chinese government and the Falun Gong followers was highlighted when, during the Chinese President's visit, he was shouted at by a Falun Gong follower during a news conference with Bush at the White House. The sect's followers, Swindell said, have been severely mistreated by the Chinese government, a concept that crosses religious or political boundaries, she said.

"It's a human-rights issue," said Swindell, who was released upon payment of a $75 fine.

Her encounter with the Falun Gong, she said, was "life-changing."

"They were blown away that Christians would support them," Swindell said. "They're the nicest people ever."

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