In protest of the inauguration of President George W. Bush, two groups of dissenters marched down Broad and Market streets on Thursday, starting at the Bell Tower and the Market Street Bridge, and converging at City Hall.
While walking, they shouted slogans like “Drop Bush, not bombs,” and “1,370 Americans dead. 100,000 Iraqis dead. For what? For why?”
The protesters were greeted mostly with support from passers-by, with a few joining in for the walk down to City Hall.
After converging, a mock-inauguration took place. Demonstrators sarcastically criticized the president’s foreign and domestic policies by announcing their ‘appreciation.’
“I believe that George W. Bush… has prevented this nation from shame,” shouted protester Alison Huxta. “I’d like to thank George Bush for saving our country from a secularized nation.”
Huxta helped organize a group called Outraged Community Coalition, which led the protest. The group organized shortly after the election as a result of a few students’ anger towards the incumbent administration.
“A couple of kids were going to go out for some drinks at a bar just to sort of talk about what went on in the election-how we were feeling-because everyone was pretty down,” Huxta said.
The crowd that finally gathered on the west side of City Hall consisted mostly of students, although other individuals came to speak as well. Local children’s rights activist Samantha Monroe was one of them.
“Children in this country are still considered a commodity,” said Monroe. “Children in this country do not have any rights whatsoever.”
Monroe came to speak out against increased government funding for faith-based initiatives and broader use of faith-based organizations instead of secular ones under the Bush administration.
“All children in this country will be told how to think, behave and act by people of [the president’s] religious choice. If your child in this country gets in this trouble and needs help it is now no longer up to the government to help, but to the churches,” Monroe said.
John Bjornson, a 12-year Navy veteran, attended as a member of the groups Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
“I think this war is very much like Vietnam,” Bjornson said. “It’s going to end up the same way. It shouldn’t have started and it shouldn’t be going on now.”
James Robinson, another organizer of the protest and member of OCC, said the number of people was inconsequential.
“It’s the message,” he said, not the volume of protesters present. “The important part is getting the message out to show that people aren’t alone who believe in this stuff.”
The OCC protest was preceded by demonstrations in Washington, D.C., three hours earlier, where thousands rallied in solidarity. Philadelphia-based group Turn Your Back on Bush headed a non-violent demonstration by turning around to face away from Bush when his motorcade drove by.
Other protesters assembled to pray in support of a Harrisonburg, VA. student, who knelt in prayer as a peaceful act of protest and was doused with pepper spray, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Protests have continued elsewhere since the inauguration. Roughly 500 people gathered in protest in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“It’s important that this stuff keeps happening because guess what: 1,370 Americans dead; and it’s going to keep going until we stop it,” said Robinson.
Andrew Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.