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Students to protest swearing in of Bush

By Cassie Tomlin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 20, 2005
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Protesters plan to convene at Old Main this afternoon to march in an Inauguration Day protest sponsored by 30 Tucson organizations including Refuse and Resist, Tucson Peace Action Coalition and the UA Young Democrats.

The protesters plan to assemble at 3:30 p.m. at the Old Main fountain and walk to the Federal Building, 300 W. Congress St., for a rally at 5 p.m.

Tariq Rahman, a political science junior and member of Refuse and Resist who helped organize the event, said he expects between 500 and 2,000 people to show up to the march.

Once the protesters reach the Federal Building there will be poetry readings, performance art and an open microphone for speeches, he said.

Scheduled speakers include political science graduate student Greg Knehans and Julian Kunnie, director of African American Studies.

Alicia Cybulski, president of UAYD, said the group is participating in the protest to show their unity with fellow Tucsonans who support their goals.

"We want to make sure issues important to us are still listened to and taken into consideration," said Cybulski, a political science senior. "Just because the elections are over doesn't mean there shouldn't be demonstrations of goals and ideas."

Danielle Roberts, UA College Republicans president, said the club will not address the inauguration protest march, but will hold a celebration at Gentle Ben's, 865 E. University Blvd., this evening to view the inauguration speech on television.

"We're not here to justify that they're protesting an election unfairly," she said. "These people are not only sore losers, but they don't appreciate our system in that we are a democracy."

Roberts said she does not know what the protesters hope to accomplish, but feels that "as a conservative, Republican, American voter, it sounds like they're just whining that they lost the election."

Rahman said the protest is a non-partisan event and would occur no matter who was being inaugurated.

"At Refuse and Resist, we have no interest in the election, we have an interest in justice and peace," Rahman said.

"This is the most divisive president in modern history, with the lowest approval rating, who has hijacked religion and experiments with terrorism - that is why we're protesting."

Pete Seat, College Republicans state chairman, said he acknowledges the protesters' right to oppose the inauguration, but does not believe the actions they are taking are productive.

"If they really want progress then we need to work together, and fighting constantly is what they're doing," said Seat, a theatre arts senior. "I think the people participating are not satisfied by anything unless they win. The votes were counted, President Bush won, and that's the end of the story."

Jereme Bintz, a member of UACR, is in Washington, D.C., tonight to watch the president's inauguration speech.

Bintz, a political science senior, said he is disappointed with rumors he heard about protesters planning to line the inauguration parade route in Washington and turn their backs to Bush.

"I think it's in bad taste, and honestly I'm going to be very mad if I can't see the parade because there's some guy's back in front of me," Bintz said.

Bintz said he does not think the protest march in Tucson will affect anything.

Arta Wildeboer, a history senior, identifies himself as an independent. He said he will not attend the protest march, but respects that people are actively expressing their feelings.

"I definitely understand why it's happening," Wildeboer said. "There's such a polarized atmosphere here, but that's what democracy is all about, and this is college."

Sgt. Eugene Mejia, University of Arizona Police Department spokesman, said their department is not planning anything extraordinary for the event, but will moderate crowd control and traffic congestion as they usually do.

"Officer presence at the event will not be intrusive, but will facilitate the ability of protestors to demonstrate their given rights in a safe manner," Mejia said. "We always plan ahead to create a safe environment for the school, students, staff and protesters."

Mejia said in the past, most protests of this nature have been peaceful and safe.

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