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InaugurationProtests

'''Bush inauguration meets resistance'''


''Protesters confront police in Washington, DC on Saturday, Jan. 20. '' By Eamon Martin '''Washington, DC, Jan. 20- '''As the pomp and circumstance of President George W. Bush's inauguration attempted to forcibly transcend the domestic instability left in the wake of what may be the most contentious election in US history, approximately 20,000 people gathered in the nation's capital to protest. Bush, the first President in more than a century to lose the national popular vote, took the oath of office as president of the United States, pledging to "unite" the country which the November elections showed to be deeply divided, along cultural, geographic, and ethnic lines. For a large percentage of the US public, the presidency is deeply mired in a crisis of legitimacy by numerous allegations of vote fraud, voter disenfranchisement, and the controversial Supreme Court decision that halted the vote count on a legal technicality. For the many who came to demonstrate from as many as forty US states, a Bush/Cheney White House represents nothing less than a debasement of democracy, a Republican coup d'etat with a suitably incompetent figurehead for a puppet regime. Despite a relentless, cold rain and unprecedented security restrictions for demonstrators, widespread feelings of outrage and contempt for the incoming administration were literally overwhelming for many of those in attendance. The day saw numerous marches, assemblies, street theater performances, and confrontations between police and protesters that have since drawn concern from media analysts, given the dramatic scope of the activities and - in many cases - their subsequent, mysterious absence from most news reports. Demonstrators were evident on every block of the 1.6-mile inaugural parade route, and on some blocks on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, they outnumbered other paradegoers. The day began early for protesters, who were in the streets well before Bush supporters. At 8:30am, a few hundred met at 12th and G streets NW, then marched to 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, to the beat of homemade drums. A boisterous crowd of more than 1,000 assembled at Dupont Circle just before 10 am, chastising Bush for "stealing" the election. At 10:30, city crews arrived to cut an effigy of Bush from a tree. Speaker Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, told the crowd: "Let them have the tree. We have all of Dupont Circle and we have the whole country. They just have the White House." Meanwhile, near the Supreme Court, Al Sharpton, Walter E. Fauntroy and other civil rights activists were holding a "shadow" inauguration and parade, attended by over 2,000 people. Laura Brightman of Brooklyn, NY commented, "We were sold out," as others around her chanted, "No justice, no peace." "And when we tried to get justice [from the Supreme Court] we were sold again," said Brightman. "The election was stolen." At the Supreme Court building, Rudy Arredondo of Takoma Park, Md., put it this way: "Bush is a Supreme Court appointee. In my eyes, and in my children's eyes, he will never be a legitimate president." '''Anarchists destroy inaugural checkpoint, hoist flag: media blackout '''
''"Black bloc" activists build a barricade in the streets of Washingtoon, DC.'' Notably ignored by the mainstream press, radical activists made anarchist history during George W. Bush's inaugural parade when one of nine police checkpoints to the celebration was battered down and overrun with thousands of protesters. Not long after, protesters -- led by the masked, black-clad, anarchist collective known as the "Black Bloc" -- seized the Naval Memorial on Pennsylvania Ave. and raised anarchist flags up the monument's flagpole. Overwhelmed by the security breach, DC police and Secret Service appeared confused, powerless, and embarrassed as they tried to contain, arrest, or disperse the demonstrators, only to fail time and time again when Black Bloc members physically fought back and successfully prevented almost any such police retaliation from happening. In the weeks leading up to Bush's inaugural moment, the "historically unprecedented" security measures being undertaken by the Republican Party in tandem with DC police and the US Secret Service received extensive attention in the news media. For the first time ever, anyone wishing to attend the inaugural parade was required to pass through one of nine police checkpoints, have their bags searched, and in some cases be frisked and have protest signs confiscated. "He stole the vote," said Ethyl Tobch, 79, of New York City. "The fact that the people's votes were absolutely stolen plus the checkpoints are very frightening. It makes you feel like you are in a real dictatorship."

It was a single egg that landed on the presidential motorcade, a brief, maybe blurry tele-view of colorful protest signs along the parade route. By most news accounts, the protests were an inaugural footnote, not worthy of much comment or attention. However, for the thousands of people attending the inaugural parade who had gathered near the US Naval Memorial, a dramatic, captivating spectacle unfolded before them, for many the likes of which had never before been seen. As the well-to-do sat perched, waiting anxiously in the expensive bleacher seats and hotel balconies overlooking the parade for the arrival of the Bush motorcade, parade-goers suddenly found themselves in the midst of a giant confrontation between police and protesters. It began when a march of nearly 600 Black Bloc demonstrators began to make its way towards the parade route, leaving a small trail of impromptu blockades -- mainly newspaper distributor racks and automobiles -- behind them. Soon after, DC police appeared and managed to corral against a building wall about 80 of this group who called themselves the "Revolutionary Anti-Authoritarian Bloc." Mass arrests seemed imminent with the police holding loads of plastic, "zip-tie" handcuffs and City Transit Authority busses parked nearby at the ready for "criminal" mass transit. DC Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said the police contingency plan for up to 5,000 arrests involved the use of several buses and 180 officers specifically prepared for that many cases. All told, about 7,000 officers had been deployed from various law enforcement agencies, including US Marshals and National Guard troops. A standoff ensued between the police, spectators, and a groundswell of protesters suddenly reinforced by the unexpected arrival of a National Organization of Women (NOW) march and a Voter Rights march, chanting "Let them go! Let them go!" Hopelessly outnumbered, the police eventually complied, freeing the demonstrators to continue their protests. With protesters now numbering in the 1,500-2,000 range, a massive march proceeded to Pennsylvania Ave. Not much later, with the reunited Black Bloc at the front, a group of inspired participants grabbed a fairly large cart parked in front of a vacant construction site. "What is this?" someone asked. "It's a battering ram!" another yelled in reply. Much to the astonishment of thousands of waiting parade-watchers, the construction cart came careening down an overlooking hill, crashing through a police checkpoint, only to be stopped from going into the parade avenue by a Secret Service car which pulled in front of it's path, damaging the federal vehicle in the process. The floodgates had been battered open, allowing what from balcony seats must have looked like a giant pool of black ink to seep into the crowded festivities, followed by a colorful barrage of signs proclaiming: "Supreme Coup," "Hail To The Thief," "Not Our President" and hundreds more. For all of their elaborate preparations, much to their surprise, police and military were now confronted with an embarrassingly massive breach of national security. Shocked Republicans and police watched as, soon after, four Black Bloc members scaled the nearby Navy Memorial flagpole to the roaring cheers of demonstrators. In little time, the Nautical flags were pulled down and replaced by black and red anarchist flags, as well as an upside down US flag -- the widely recognized symbol of distress. Over the next few hours, riot police attempted at least three times to rush and disperse those assembled by the monument, only to be pushed, fought back, and defeated. Dozens of times, without identifying themselves, several undercover police attempted to "surprise arrest" demonstrators. Activists responded quickly, however, and with little exception, prevented this from happening by directly confronting the police, tackling them, fighting them, and many times forcibly removing them from the area. Meanwhile, the parade had been delayed. When the Bush/Cheney motorcade eventually did arrive, the cars abruptly sped by this concentrated protest area, forcing the Secret Service chaperones to break pace and run full steam to catch up. At this particular moment, while food, debris, loud insults, and a sea of hundreds of middle fingers were hurled toward the new president, apparently several news networks broadcasting live simulcasts, simultaneously thought it best to cut to commercial breaks or check in with comments from fawning news pundits. Most demonstrators in the area soon dispersed afterward, the object of their animosity having since passed by in the new Cadillac, which featured puncture-proof tires and six-inch-thick bulletproof glass. Of the estimated 350,000 people who came downtown Saturday to see the swearing-in ceremony or parade, DC police arrested only five, and other law enforcement agencies arrested only a handful of others. '''Demonstrations nationwide''' Protests in opposition to what many are characterizing as an appointed regime by the US Supreme Court were not limited to Washington DC. Thousands of US citizens in over a dozen cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Austin, Tallahassee, New York, Montpelier, Santa Fe, Denver, Los Angeles, Portland and others protested the inauguration. According to the Independent Media Center, thousands of protesters took over part of downtown San Fransisco, stopping cable cars. 3,500 demonstrated in Los Angeles. Even Paris, France saw thousands of demonstrators against the death penalty protest the swearing-in of the new US President. All around the country, mock coronations of "King George II" were staged. In Seattle, an actor dressed in a Revolutionary War costume stole the crown from a shrub and offered it to the people. The crowd of 3,000 placed the crown at the head of a parade. Chicago protesters converged on the city's Federal Building. Demonstrators protested at the state capitols in Denver, Colorado and Montpelier, Vermont. In Albuquerque, New Mexico local TV coverage gave more time to local protests than to the Bush ceremonies. In Austin, Texas, 500 people gathered on the state capitol steps. The election "was stolen and it was stolen in Florida. I think there should be a revolution in this country on just this issue," said Arthur Joe Sr. of Dallas. In Asheville, North Carolina, forty-five indignant people braved freezing rain to sing, dance and wave signs, to the obvious delight of passing motorists, who responded with honks and thumbs up. The protest lasted from ten until two o'clock. AGR staff contributed to this report. Additional sources: Independent Media Center, Washington Post, IPS, Philadelphia Inquirer (c) Copyright 2000 Asheville Global Report. Reprinting for non-profit purposes is permitted: Please credit the source.