CrowdsProtest Bush Inauguration
By RON KAMPEAS
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON JANUARY21, 2001 (AP) George W. Bush's motorcade crept through the largest inauguralprotests since Richard Nixon on Saturday, enduring thousands of protesters whohurled insults at the newly installed president. Some threw bottles, tomatoesand an egg and one demonstrator burned an American flag atop a lamppost.
Protesters clashedbriefly with police clad in riot gear at a few flash points while Bush remainedinside his armored stretch car for most of the parade up a soggy, coldPennsylvania Avenue.
Police ordered themotorcade to slow in anticipation of some protests at one point stopping itfor five minutes and then sped it through others.
A couple of protestersthrew bottles and tomatoes before the presidential limousine arrived, and onehurled an egg that landed near the motorcade, the Secret Service said.
But the protestersmanaged little else to interrupt the festivities in the face of a massive showof 7,000 police officers. As the day grew darker and colder, authorities hadarrested only eight people and activists began to disperse, said Terrance W.Gainer, executive assistant chief of police. One of them was charged withassault with a deadly weapon after slashing tires and trying to assault anofficer, Gainer said.
"Hailto the Thief,'' read one sign along the parade route questioning the legitimacyof Bush's election win in Florida. Other protesters sported buttons declaring,"illegitimate Son of a Bush.''
"Ifhe had won clearly, I wouldn't have troubled to come here,'' said Mack Wilder, aconstruction worker from Greensboro, N.C., who joined over 100 others from thestate for a five-hour bus journey through fog and rain.
Some said the deeplyconservative tinge of Bush's Cabinet drove them into the streets. "Byhaving people like (John) Ashcroft nominated, he is definitely not being ahealer, which is what he promised to be,'' said Barbara Katz.
There were also inauguralday protests around the country. Some of the largest were in California, wheredemonstrators outside the Capitol sang "George Bush Ain't My President.''Protesters in Seattle gathered around a flower-covered cardboard coffin labeled"Ballot Box.'' There were also demonstrations in Florida, Massachusetts,Oregon, and Vermont,
Bush had remained in hislimousine for most of the traditional parade route up Pennsylvania Avenue fromthe Capitol to the White House.
The new president finallyexited for a brief walk only after he reached a secure zone near the White Housefilled with inauguration ticketholders and no protesters.
The protests were thelargest since those during Nixon's 1973 inauguration at the height of theVietnam war. Those protests drew about 60,000; organizers of the Bush protestsanticipated 20,000.
Protesters as well asthe celebrants faced frigid rain, fog and temperatures near freezing.
Though protesters hadmany disparate causes, most said they were motivated by the Florida electioncontroversy.
Bob Rogers, one of theorganizers of the "Voter March,'' said the fact that Bush captured theWhite House even though Al Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 guaranteedbusloads of demonstrators.
"Theseare moderate, working people, motivated by anger, embarrassment, that kind ofsentiment,'' he said. "They're wondering, `We put a man on the moon, whycan't we count the vote?'''
On the Capitol stepswhere he was sworn in, Bush exchanged smiles and pleasantries with Al Gore acivility that at times extended into the streets. Pro- and anti-Bush protestersjoked with each other, and jostled each other on crowded subway trains.
In one food court, wherepeople took refuge from a freezing rain, a man wearing an "Impeach Bush''button warmed up with a hot beverage a couple of tables away from a woman doingthe same and wearing a sweatshirt declaring, "Bush: Making aDifference.''
At some junctures, thesides exchanged insults. When pro-Bush people chanted, "Help is on theway,'' protesters countered "Hell is on the way.''
At one point, protesterstook over a section of inaugural parade bleachers set aside for ticketed guests.
Earlier, a few officerswere hurt after protesters threw bottles at them. One policeman, Sgt. KeithDeville, was seen bleeding from the eye. He was treated on the spot and returnedto work, Police Chief Charles Ramsey said.
Two streakers jumpedbarriers while a cowboy in underwear sang to the crowd. The streakers weredetained by police.
One protester climbedatop a traffic light pole and set fire to a small American flag as hundreds offellow demonstrators on the street cheered.
The marchers facedstringent security measures, including a first: Checkpoints along the paraderoute. There were miles of steel fencing, and Secret Service agents in longblack overcoats jogged alongside the motorcade.
The security frustratedeven Bush supporters. "Security is tighter than it needs to be,'' said Rep.Tom Davis, R-Va., fuming as he waited to be ushered through a barricade. Daviseventually left to look for a detour.
Authorities were worriedbecause many of the expected demonstrators participated in recent protests, suchas the one in 1999 in Seattle that resulted in violence and hundreds of arrests.
Ramsey, who wielded anightstick and strode alongside his men, anticipated that the security wouldcost $4 million $1.7 million more than budgeted.
"Itain't a D.C. event,'' he said, "it's a national event.''
On the Net: InternationalAction Center: http://www.iacenter.org
Presidential InauguralCommittee 2001: http://www.inauguration-2001.com
Associated Press writersDavid Ho, Ian Hopper, Larry Margasak, Leigh Strope and Nancy Zuckerbrodcontributed to this report.