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Booing the inauguration and living to tell the tale

Eugene activists invade the Bush coronation, and make their voices heard.
TAKING THE WAR TO BUSH: EUGENE ACTIVISTS INVADE INAUGURATION CEREMONY

Three activists from Eugene traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to take
part
in protests around the inauguration of George W. Bush. Carol Melia, Willow
Rose and Peter Chabarek had tickets for the swearing-in ceremony on the west
lawn of the US Capitol Building on January 20th and we planned a little
surprise for Mr. Bush and his guests. We felt an absolute imperative to
speak
truth to power in the strongest possible way that ordinary folks like us
were
able. We also had scheduled music performances in DC of our political folk
music as the "Enemy Combatants" which I'll discuss later.

Carol had had the foresight to request tickets for the inauguration last
August, after our return from the protests at the Republican National
Convention in NYC. She was determined to go and protest the war regardless
of
who won the election. I was unsure until a month before the trip if I was
up
for another fairly grueling journey of protests, unpaid time off work, and
risk
of being attacked or arrested. But the three of us decided we could not sit
on
the sidelines for the coronation of mad King George so off we went, packed
with
heavy winter gear, guitar, amplifier and the prayers and well wishes of our
friends and family. Everyone knew we had successfully disrupted Bush and
Cheney campaign rallies in Oregon with dramatic anti-war messages, and this
was
a chance to shame and embarrass the Administration in their moment of
supposed
triumph. We were under no illusions about our chances to make an impact,
nor
the risks involved: would we be close enough to the podium and the press to
be
noticed? Would they let us in after having a record of our disruption of
the
Cheney rally in Eugene? Would we again be attacked by partisans in the
crowd,
as had happened before, and how bad would it be? How would we be treated by
law enforcement, considering that the Secret Service would be in charge and
the "Patriot Act" in full effect?

We couldn't know the answers to these questions but we were banking on the
presence of the international media to act as a restraint on the behavior of
police and partisans. And if there was to be violent repression of peaceful
protest, we wanted the world to see that this is what democracy looks like
in
America.

Two days before the big event, we went to Congressman Defazio's and Senator
Wyden's office in DC to pick up our tickets. We were absolutely delighted
to
find out we were in Section 12 of the seated area, about 60 yards from the
podium if we could get to the front of that section, rather than the
standing
area which would get us no closer than 200 yards or more.

The swearing-in of Mr. Bush was to happen precisely at noon, as specified in
the Constitution. We awoke at 5am to get ready and be at the gates before
they
opened at 9am. We got through security without incident and got directed to
our seats by the military ushers and then we started engaging in
conversations
with people around us. We got into an extensive conversation, which became
an
interview, with Deon Lamprecht, the Washington bureau chief for the
Johannesburg (South Africa) Star newspaper, who was pleased to find
dissenters
in the crowd. We discretely gave him our opinions of the Bush
Administration
without letting on to others around us. We talked to other folks about
family,
Oregon and small talk, and tried to stay warm (it was 20 degrees and the
wind
blowing at 15 mph, with 3 inches of snow on the ground). At 10 am, the
music
began with military bands and college choirs, and the announcements of
various
dignitaries arriving. Predictably, the biggest cheers went out for people
like
Bush Sr. and Newt Gingrich, while John Kerry was roundly booed and jeered,
and
the Clintons were also booed. Finally the feature presentation began. We
restrained ourselves through Cheney's swearing-in and noticed there was a
silent pause between the introduction of the Speaker of the House, Dennis
Hastert, and Cheney's taking of the oath, so we figured the same would hold
true after Chief Justice Rehnquist would be introduced at the beginning of
Bush's oath. That would be our opening. We were right.

Carol had the video camera rolling. We stepped out into the aisle next to
our
seats and started shouting "Stop the War! Bring home the troops!" as loud as
we
possibly could over and over again. The military ushers next to us were
stunned and didn't seem to know what to do. There were no police in the
immediate vicinity. People around us started booing. We could hear our
voices
echoing off the Capitol Building, and we were maybe 30 yards from the media
tower, so we were sure we were being heard. After about 20 seconds we were
attacked by a tall man in a long black coat who doused each of us with water
and then pushed each of us to the ground. Undeterred, each of us in turn
popped right back up and continued shouting. A woman in the crowd jumped on
Carol and tried to wrestle the camera away from her, but Carol fought her
off.
After about 60 seconds, the Capitol Police showed up. The officer said "You
can't be doing that here. I'll have to ask you to leave for your own
protection." We felt we had completed the mission successfully and didn't
wish
to be arrested, so we complied with police and were escorted out. They did
not
charge us with anything and seemed to go out of their way to be courteous to
us. As we were led out through the crowd, we got a range of responses from
people: Carol was saying to people "let's bring home all our troops alive"
and
got many thumbs-up. I was saying "Defend the Constitution! Defend the First
Amendment!" and people booed and threw snowballs at me. Willow
said "Democaracy means we have the right to dissent;" "Don't be afraid to
speak out the truth," and elicited some positive responses.

We received quite a bit of press for our actions. We called in our report
to
Amy Pincus-Merwin for her report on KWVA Eugene, who contacted Democracy
Now,
an independent news show that broadcasts on over 300 stations nationwide.
They
called us and arranged to interview us and used Carol's footage of the
action
as well in their show the next day, with the headline "Protesters Disrupt
Inauguration ceremony." MSNBC questioned Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge
about the "protesters that interrupted the inaguration." We heard there
were
reports of us on NPR, and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now told us our voices
were
clearly heard on the raw footage of Reuters News Service which provides
film/audio to news outlets around the world. All of the major American
media
seemed to have edited out our intrusion, however. We did interviews with NBC
affiliate KMTR in Eugene (including one in the Washington DC Studios of
NBC),
the Oregonian and the Register Guard. There's so much more to tell about:
the
other protests we took part in and those we didn't, the gaudy inauguration
balls with people in tuxedos and full length furs, the clash of protesters
and
Bush supporters along the parade route and lots more. But space is limited
here.
Come hear the Enemy Combatants play our music and tell stories of our
adventures on Friday, January 28th, 7:30pm at Fool's Paradise, 5th and
Willamette.
The Resistance is strong and growing.



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add a comment on this article

a question for those at the coronation or watching on TV 28.Jan.2005 13:48

yeti's cousin

I have heard that Bush's car got hit with snowballs. Is that true? and if so does anyone have it videoed? It would be cool to post. My brother who was flipping back and forth between C-Span and CNN noticed Bush's car looked like it had been marked with a snowball.

Cheney's side of the limo-tank hit 28.Jan.2005 15:10

yahoo pics

.
The Coronation Snowall
The Coronation Snowall
puppetmaster Cheney riding his horse of the apocalypse
puppetmaster Cheney riding his horse of the apocalypse
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truth in advertising