"He’s Not Our President"
Protesters here and nationwide will try to overcome media blackout on Inauguration Day.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
On Thursday, Jan. 20—the day President Bush’s supporters will rally at the Capitol to celebrate his inauguration for a second term as president—protestors from Salinas to Santa Fe will participate in rallies and marches, and carry thousands of coffins to commemorate soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Monterey County, groups including the Salinas Action League and the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council will gather at noon, in front of the Federal Building at 100 W. Alisal, to tell the Bush Administration to bring our troops home. Later, many of the protestors—or, at least the ones who can take a day off work—will head over to Monterey’s Window-on-the-Bay Park, to a 3:30pm to 6pm event sponsored by the Peace Coalition of Monterey County and a slew of other organizations.
But while many demonstrations planned to coincide with the presidential parade and other Inauguration Day festivities are billed as “Counter-Inauguration” marches and the like, the Peace Coalition’s Joyce Vandevere says these local demonstrations aren’t Bush-bashing events. She’s asking attendees to bring candles and signs with positive messages about peace and social justice.
“We’re not putting that negative spin on it,” Vandevere says. “We want to send a positive message of what we want from the new Administration. And from the Peace Coalition’s perspective, it’s to end the war, bring home the troops, stop the occupation and renounce the idea of torture.”
Cathy Gable, who chairs the Reproductive Rights Coalition of Monterey County, says her group is co-sponsoring the event—which happens to be occur two days before the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade—to send a message about safeguarding reproductive rights.
“Roe v. Wade is threatened under this current administration,” she says, “and there’s been a lot of talk of new Supreme Court appointees.”
The Monterey Bay Central Labor Council’s Paul Johnston says labor will be visible in all four events around the Monterey Bay region—Salinas, Monterey, Watsonville and Santa Cruz—with two messages: “Bring our troops home now, and hands off our social security.
“By far, most of the folks from our region who are serving in our military are from the Salinas Valley,” he says. “And we’re dismayed that the Bush Administration is proposing to privatize Social Security. We’ve got to make it politically impossible for him to do this.”
But while these three groups join others from coast to
coast on Jan.20, linked by their opposition to the war and
other social, economic and health-care related policies of the
Bush Administration, most protests around the county will take
on a decidedly more disruptive tone.
Peaceniks and anarchists alike want to ensure that even if White House officials are able to silence rallies and acts of civil disobedience in Washington, they won’t be able to stop the protestors in other towns and cities all over the US.
“When I saw Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911,” says Salinas Action League’s Robin Cohen, “I was pleased, and also shocked to see the level of protests that had happened during the last inauguration. The press didn’t cover it. People finally did get to see that footage, but it took almost four years.
“This time around, it’s important to document how the Bush Administration is trying to impede any of that expression, as well as to make sure the independent media is documenting all the expression that is happening.”
All over the US, some consumers will refuse to spend any money as a sign of protest against the war and support for the troops. Others will scream “no” at noon (Eastern time) and wear black clothing, or drum for peace when Bush begins his Oath of Office.
In San Francisco, the group ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) gears up for a 5pm protest at the Civic Center to protest the war and the administration’s attacks on civil rights, as well as to stand up for social security, Roe v. Wade, and equal marriage rights for all. In Seattle, Pittsburgh, New York and Los Angeles, protestors are calling for massive walkouts, teach-ins and citywide rallies. The DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) has organized a rally and march that will end with 1,000 cardboard coffins being taken to Lafayette Park, across from the White House. And some are determined to silently show disapproval by turning their back on the motorcade of black limousines and SUVs as it carries the President along the parade route.
“Get there early,” advises TurnYourBackOnBush.org. “The administration has packed the route with private seating in bleachers to keep anyone but Bush’s supporters from seeing the parade. Bush is the signal to turn your back.”
Republicans, however, are doing their darndest to keep these protestors at a minimum—or at least keep them away from TV cameras and off of the front pages of daily newspapers. Bush handlers don’t want a repeat of the inaugural parade four years ago, where protestors threw eggs and garbage at the limos. By late last week, tickets for most inaugural events had already been scooped up.
And while in previous years, hundreds of thousands of spectators have lined Pennsylvania Avenue to watch the parade, this year, the general public will largely be kept out. Bleachers fill most of the prime viewing space, and seats cost upwards of $125.
“They might be able to prevent George Bush from hearing people protest,” Johnston says, “but the protest messages today about the Bush Administration’s policies are going to be loud and clear in all kinds of places across the country, not just the big cities but in the small towns as well.”