by Mary Deibel
Scripps Howard News Service
January 13, 2005
Like the workers who have spent months cobbling together the pageant, from the Capitol's inaugural platform to the White House VIP grandstands, demonstrators have been assembling their own plans.
Some threatened court action to make sure they're heard and seen:
- Anti-war groups backed off suing the National Park Service once it finally agreed Tuesday to set aside a small bleacher section for protests. Before that, "the park service essentially privatized Pennsylvania Avenue for Republican contributors and left only 220 linear feet for the public," national coordinator Brian Becker of the anti-war Answer Coalition complained. The private inaugural committee set up to solicit donations of up to $250,000 to cover most inaugural costs controls and sells almost all Pennsylvania Avenue bleacher seats for $15, $60 and $125.
- The Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition is considering suing over a Secret Service ban on wooden and metal crosses that are too large to wear around the neck. "This marks the first time a federal law-enforcement agency has banned crosses from a public event and expressed the view that crosses could somehow be used as a weapon," he says.
Protesters promise to make their views known despite the strict security.
One anti-Bush group's supporters will take bleacher seats early, with instructions to "turn your back on Bush" as the parade passes by after his noontime oath-taking. "We won't know who's participating until the moment it begins," says Jet Heiko, national organizer for www.TurnYourBackonBush.org.
The D.C. Anti-War Network _DAWN - will stage a "die-in" near the parade route to symbolize those killed in Iraq while Billionaires for Bush will "auction off" Social Security and other programs at the FDR Memorial down on the Potomac.
At the Jefferson Memorial, Committee to ReDefeatBush founder David Lytel will play Alexis de Tocqueville to historian Clay Jenkinson's Thomas Jefferson in a preview to the "first counter-inaugural ball" at a local nightclub. "Not Just Republicans Have Balls," reads ReDefeat's invitation to the ball, to which tickets are $30 for the under-30 crowd and $60 for their elders.
Free Republic will fete Bush backers at a $175-a-head ball featuring Capitol Offense, the nation's only rock band with a sitting governor, Arkansas' Mike Huckabee (on guitar). Earlier, members of the group will spend Inauguration Day providing Pennsylvania Avenue "safe havens" for folks fleeing "tens of thousands of anti-American protesters swarming the parade route," according to spokeswoman Kristinn Taylor.
Don't care to contend with blocked-off-streets, security checkpoints, body searches and demonstrators? The Internet is clogged with virtual protests eight years after Bill Clinton's 1997 inauguration was the first to be simulstreamed on the Internet.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, unleashed cyber-fits by using his www.blogmaverick.com site to ask Bush to "set an example" in a time of war and nature's wrath by canceling inaugural parties and donating the money to tsunami relief instead.
On the Net:
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com