I don't know how many people were out in the streets protesting Bush on the day of his inauguration, but I wondered, as I was walking to our local rally here in Eugene, if the unelected president had his fingers crossed while he was being sworn into office with all of the promised lies that he was spewing. Oh, but that's right, his god allows for lies, stealing and killing.
I arrived the protest just as the UofO students were coming from their rally at the memorial union. They were passionately marching, chanting and drumming for peace, joining the rally already in progress at the federal building.
We were a few hundred strong, in comparison to the (2) pro-Bush, pro-War, pro-killing guys (that were said to be "skinheads") who came with their big banner that read "THESE PEOPLE HATE AMERICA". They walked up and crowded out the half a dozen or so protestors who were standing on the corner at 7th and Pearl (what was to become the confrontation corner), quickly inciting heated arguments and angst, which is why the cops stepped in. These two received, what one of the protesters called, "special protection" from about a half dozen cops during the entire rally. Had the cops not been there, all hell would've broke loose. Name calling ensued, they were yelled at, taunted, and told to go to hell while peace protestors quickly reclaimed their place between them.
They were clearly not welcome, despite the police repeatedly reminding us that it was just as much their right to be there as it was ours. One guy was particularly brazen with standing right next to one of the guys while repeatedly yelling "FUCK REPUBLICAN AMERICA". A woman standing next to him said "I prefer to fuck people I like".
I guess you could say that their presence was one of the highlights of the event with the ruckus that they caused. When a woman attempted to ask them why they were there and what it was that they did not understand about our protest for peace, the head cop asked her to stop, telling her "I don't think dialogue is in their program".
When a few agitators starting yelling "KILL BUSH", one of the guys told the cop that it was a federal offense to make a threat against the president of the united states, and to arrest these people. Now, this was news to me but the cop said that they could say anything that they wanted, even about the president. He said that unless they have the means to carry the threat out, they are just exercising their first amendment right. The cop then rather snidely asked him, "Do you see the president here, I don't see the president".
In sharp contrast to these two hardened faces of hate were the fresh young smiling faces of a group of friendly teenagers who shared the same street corner, screaming and squealing at the top of their lungs. They were having fun but were also incredibly passionate about their message of peace and love.
All this was transpiring while most of the growing crowd was intently listening to the speakers, hoping to hear some solutions to our irrepressible problems. One speaker kept saying rather fanciful things that seem so far from our reality. Maybe I am a pessimist (although I think I'm more a realist) but I don't think that we presently have the "power" that he told us would help restore democracy. If we did, Bush would not have been sworn in as president for the second time around today, when he was not even elected.
I left the rally as the night was crowding in and the streets were emptying, with many of the protestors heading to Cosmic Pizza for more festivities.
While the chants were aplenty and the number of people there impressive enough, I wondered, as did a fellow protestor that I spoke with, if any good will come of our efforts. I still strongly believe in gathering together to protest against the government, and indeed, as per the Declaration of Independence, it is our duty to eliminate oppression when a government has gone too far. So, we need to be out there and very vocal. But a protest now and again is not enough, although I am not sure what would be enough.
Real solutions, the ones that we do have the power to instigate, could begin with helping those that are oppressed by the government; the hungry, the homeless, the destitute. The biggest rEvolution that we can engage in is feeding the people. Feed them healthy food, real media, truth, love, and respect. We need to talk with our neighbors, not necessarily about politics and war, but about community and cooperation. Perhaps when we plan for the next rally we should move it from the streets into the missions, the homeless shelters and the soup kitchens. Bread NOT Bombs!