Bush Evades Massive Anti-War Protests

May 28th, 2007 - by admin

ANSWER Coalition & The New Haven Register – 2007-05-28 23:03:36


Bush Confronted by Antiwar Protesters
As Congress Votes to Continue the War

The ANSWER Coalition

(May 25, 2007) — New London 3Congratulations to everyone in cities and towns throughout Connecticut, New England and the Mid-Atlantic who mobilized for the May 23 Protest Bush Rally in New London, Connecticut. Together, we made it an incredible success! Without your help it could not have been done.

As the New Haven Register and many other news outlets reported, 1,000 antiwar demonstrators gathered at the main gate of the US Coast Guard Academy to protest the visit of George W. Bush and demand an immediate end to the U.S. war in Iraq. CBS television news reported that the antiwar rally was the largest demonstration in New London, CT in over twenty years.

People came by van and car caravan from Hartford, New Haven, New York City, Willimantic, Mystic, Boston, Cape Cod, Westerly, RI, New Paltz, NY, Portland, ME, and many other cities and towns.

The large turnout of the demonstration was particularly impressive given the fact that the demonstration happened at 9:00 am on a weekday.

It was initiated by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition. A wide array of social justice and veterans organizations co-sponsored and mobilized. The rally was co-chaired by Eugene Puryear, Coordinator of Youth & Student A.N.S.W.E.R. and student at Howard University, and Tahnee Stair, Coordinator of A.N.S.W.E.R. – Connecticut.

Veterans and families speak out
The event was noteworthy for the involvement of many veterans, families of soldiers and marines, and active duty military personnel who came to speak out. Speakers included Carlos and Melida Arredondo, whose son Alex was killed in Iraq in 2004; Elliot Adams, President of Veterans for Peace; Ted Goodnight, an Afghanistan War Veteran who served from 2003 to 2004; and Priscilla Lounds, Army veteran and New London activist with the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition.

Students and faculty attended from Connecticut College, University of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State University, Eastern CSU, Western CSU, Southern CSU, Wesleyan University, Yale University, Northern Virginia Community College, Columbia University, Howard University and elsewhere. A contingent of high school students from The Williams School, located across the street from the USCGA, also attended.

ANSWER CT protestIn the weeks and days leading up to the demonstration, on the day of and afterward, the demonstration was covered by a many media outlets, including The New Haven Register, The New London Day, The Hartford Courant, The Norwich Bulletin, The Pacifica Network, NPR, The Connecticut Post, New England CBS and ABC television news broadcasts, and more.

The Protest Bush Rally at the USCGA was part of a nationwide campaign initiated by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition called “Turn up the Heat in 2007.” Antiwar activists and organizers around the country are joining together to guarantee that wherever and whenever Bush, Cheney, and other government officials and members of Congress step out in public they will be met by antiwar protestors.

Next stop: West Point – Turn up the Heat
On Saturday, May 26, there will be another demonstration at West Point, New York where Dick Cheney will be the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony. Activists are assembling at Veteran’s Park in nearby Highland falls at 8:30 a.m. for a march to the Thayer Gate into West Point. The protest is sponsored by the ad hoc West Point May 26 Organizing Committee, a coalition of 47 regional and national antiwar organizations.

The Two Parties of Militarism, War and Occupation
The Turn up the Heat in 2007 campaign comes at a critical time. The day after his speech at the Coast Guard Academy – at which he labeled the occupation of Iraq as a cornerstone in the so-called “war on terrorism” – Congress again embraced Bush’s war.

By an overwhelming margin, the Senate and the House of Representatives voted to give Bush another nearly $95 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic Party leadership agreed to remove the non-binding language for a troop withdrawal timeline that had been included in an earlier bill that Bush vetoed.

Seventy-five percent of the people in this country want a troop withdrawal and yet the Senate voted 80 -14 and the House voted 280-142 to give Bush the funds and authority to continue the aggression in Iraq.

Motorcade Avoids 1,000 Antiwar Protesters
Mary E. O’Leary / The New Haven Register

NEW LONDON (May 24, 2007) — Joan Chrisler of Milford felt it was time Wednesday for her to speak up. The psychology professor at Connecticut College made her usual trip to New London Wednesday, but she wasn’t there to teach. This time, her reasons were personal.

“I’m here primarily because of the Iraq war. It is just so distressing every day to see the carnage. I think it has to come to a stop. I’m proud to have the chance to stand up and say I have had enough,” Chrisler said as she stood on Williams Street in the hopes President Bush’s motorcade would see about 1,000 protesters lined up for a block toward the entrance to the Coast Guard Academy.

Bush was whisked in to deliver the commencement address through another route, but organizers were thrilled with the intergenerational and racially mixed crowd organized by Connecticut Opposes the War, the Answer Coalition and Veterans for Peace.

The protesters stood along a portion of Williams Street and up Route 32 off Exit 83 of Interstate 95, while about 100 Bush supporters, mainly veterans, held a counter-protest across the street as New London police with dogs patrolled the center.

Exchanges between the sides were spirited, but never went beyond shouting and often had a tinge of Vietnam War protests 30 years ago with the counter-protesters screaming, “Commie traitors have to go.”

New Haven had a sizeable contingent with about 20 people on a bus and several more who came on their own. Khalil Iskarous, 39, a researcher from Yale University, said it was important to tell the world the war is not being conducted “in our name. I believe it is through the actions of regular people that we will see an end to this,” he said.

Victorya McEvoy of New Haven was similarly moved.

“I stand in opposition to the madness that is trying so desperately to take over this country. I want to be part of the solution, rather than be part of the problem,” she said.

The event didn’t lack for theater, with several protesters sporting prison garb and huge paper mache heads of Bush and his Cabinet.

The antiwar groups carried signs such as: “Quagmire Accomplished,” “Draft Young Republicans” and “Bush Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight.”

One side yelled, “You are the right-wing road show,” to which the other side replied, “You’re a liberal girlie man,” and “Go to Iraq as human shields.”

Chrisler was among about 100 academics organized by chemistry professor Marc Zimmer of Connecticut College who said the Bush administration has sacrificed science to political philosophy.

Susan DeNoia of Waterford, an employee at Electric Boat, joined the counter-demonstrators and stood with several out-of-state people from Gathering of Eagles, a support group for veterans.

“Our troops do so much for us and sacrifice so much, in some small way I wanted to give back. I’m greatly appreciative. There is a group of Americans who really do appreciate the president, our country and our troops,” DeNoia said.

She felt the war was a worthy cause and protesters who want the troops to come home were demoralizing.

Across the street, Ted Goodnight, 33, a member of the Rhode Island National Guard who spent nine months in Afghanistan, said most early operations were simply a show of force and wasted resources, leaving troops short of ammunition and other supplies when the focus switched to Iraq.

“I felt betrayed just like every serviceman who participated in that war. It is time to bring them home,” said Goodnight, a member of Vets for Peace.

“We reject the fascist message of hate,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator of the Answer Coalition. “We have more in common with all the people who are the targets of the Bush administration than we do with Bush and Cheney and their billionaire backers. The politicians won’t end the war, we are going to end the war,” he said.

He called the latest response by Congress, which has dropped a timetable from the Iraq war spending bill, “pathetic capitulation once again by the Democrats.”

On the other side, Roger Petersen of New Britain made a pledge of his own.

“Everywhere they go, we will go to protest them. They are not interested in winning this war at all. They are interested in America’s defeat,” Petersen said.

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