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USA: Protests Planned at Bush Inauguration

Associated Press
December 22nd, 2000

WASHINGTON -- Demonstrators who shut down a global trade meeting in Seattle last year and brawled with police at the Republican National Convention plan to show up in force for President-elect Bush's inauguration next month.

Organizers insist the protests, for a variety of causes, will be orderly and peaceful and that any violence will be the fault of police.

''George Bush will not go one block down Pennsylvania Avenue without being confronted with signs and banners and other creatively done messages of the movement that says 'No' to the death penalty, 'No' to racism, 'No' to voter disenfranchisement,'' Brian Becker, co-director of the International Action Center, said at a news conference Thursday.

''If there is violence that day, it will be because -- as we've witnessed at so many demonstrations in the past year -- the police decided to engage in violent behavior against demonstrators,'' he said. No civil disobedience has been planned, he said.

The issues motivating the protesters range from abortion to abolition of the Electoral College. Veterans of a growing movement against corporate globalization from the Seattle protest will be joined by environmental activists, people opposed to U.S. involvement in Latin America and those who oppose Bush's contested victory.

Becker said his group requested permits six weeks ago from the District of Columbia police to allow hundreds to gather at locations in front of the Justice Department, around the Capitol and along the inaugural route. Their permits have not yet been granted.

District police would not say whether the permits would be approved. The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Bush transition office had no comment.

Adam Eidinger, protest coordinator for the Justice Action Movement and a demonstrator at both national political conventions this summer, said police agreed to meet with demonstrators early next week to discuss how to avoid confrontations that have marked other recent protests.

Many of the demonstrations had been planned well before the contested presidential election, organizers said, but the recent events in Florida galvanized their movements.

''Because of the outcome of the election, I think the protests will be much larger,'' said Eidinger. His group, a coalition of organizations including those who protested at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington in April, plans to have small groups of people throughout the crowd at the inauguration holding anti-Bush signs.

Questioning the legitimacy of Bush's presidency after the contested election and the Florida recount, many of the signs and posters being prepared read ''Hail to the Thief.''

''However you look at this inauguration, you will see demonstrators,'' Eidinger said. ''If police attempt to keep people out of the inauguration, they're going to have to screen every single person that attends.''

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