Bush inaugural protested

By Cassie Tomlin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 21, 2005

Students, Tucsonans march from Old Main

About 200 people gathered at the UA Old Main fountain yesterday afternoon to walk in an inauguration day protest march downtown to a rally at the Federal Building.

UA students and Tucson citizens of all ages convened at the fountain at 3:30 p.m. wielding noisemakers, megaphones and signs in protest of President Bush's swearing-in ceremony.

Several UAPD officers stood atop the Old Main building overseeing the crowd before they began walking east on University Boulevard, leaving the campus at around 4:15 p.m.

The line of walkers and bicyclists stretched from Euclid Avenue to Park Avenue on University Boulevard as they occupied the entire right lane of the road. Bicycle police patrolled the intersections, directing traffic around the protest march.

The protest march was led by three motorcycle police, followed by two protesters holding a cardboard sign reading "Torture never wins hearts and minds."

"Not my president, not my war. We won't take it anymore," and "1, 2, 3, 4, we don't want your fascist war, 5, 6, 7, 8, we will not participate," the protesters chanted.

Several men sat outside of three fraternity houses on University Boulevard, holding up American flags and jeering the protesters, who jeered back.

The group swelled as they proceeded south on Fourth Avenue and west on Congress Street, recruiting pedestrians along the route. The crowd peaked at about 300 when they reached the Federal Building at 300 West Congress St.

Once in front of the Federal Building, protesters danced, chanted, and passed around a megaphone. Several people in the crowd spoke about the importance of building a liberal community and protesting on a consistent basis.

Two speakers were scheduled for the event, but Tucson Action Peace Coalition march organizer Joe Bernick said the speeches were not necessary.

"Everyone is having a good time, so there's no need for it," he said.

Bernick said there has been a candlelight vigil at the Federal Building every Inauguration Day since 1981, when Ronald Reagan took office.

He said he did not think the protest bothered employees at the Federal Building.

"It might create minor difficulties for people walking on the sidewalk there, but that's the price of freedom," he said.

Members of the UA Young Democrats who helped organize the event said they were happy with the protest's turnout.

"Its been peaceful and we've gotten the point across," said Brigid Blazek, a biology freshman. "It's a large, diversified crowd."

Political science freshman Michael Slugocki said although he does not think the Tucson protest will affect President Bush, he believes it will have an impact on the local government.

"I think they'll see the huge crowd and listen to us more," he said. " We're obviously still not happy, but this protest shows that we still have a mission and we still have values," he said.

The protesters dispersed at 6 p.m. and people vacated the Federal Building area.