I'll hold my thoughts today and pass along a message from a friend. Brad made the decision to protest Bush's visit to Martin Luther Kings Grave in Atlanta. Read on:
Hey Steve ,
I want to tell you about my experience yesterday at MLK Jr. center . This may not seem like a big deal to many, but it was a totally new experience for me .
I've never protested anything in my life, except perhaps my childish protest of going off to daycare as a young child, or other things that amount to not much
more than that, in importance . The experience yesterday has made a lasting impression upon me . I will never again sit on the sidelines and let others
fight my battles, or sit Idly aside and assume that everything will work itself out, and that Washington has our best interest in mind....
When I returned to The King Center yesterday at about 1:30 in the afternoon, there was a small crowd of people waiting in anticipation of Bushes arrival .
At this point there were more Secret Service, and APD Red Dogs, and other unknown military and or law enforcement types clad in fatiques,
accompanied by very long rifles, and big German Shepherds, than there were protesters . I was a bit uncomfortable initially .
As time went on the crowd began to increase dramatically . Much more than I had imagined . There wasn't a Bush Backer to be seen within
ten miles . To my surprise everyone there was protesting( why am I surprised by that ?) . I had heard reports the previous day that Pres. Clinton had been greeted by thousands of cheering supporters, welcoming him to the King Center and Atlanta . So, I didn't no what to expect on this day, with Bush visiting .
The media made reports of hundreds of protesters, I heard 300, 400, 500, and 800 . My estimation would be closer to 1000-1500, when you take into
account the protesters that were cordoned off around the corner, out of site of the cameras .
Some people were protesting the war, others were protesting Bush enviromental policy(or lack there of ), others were protesting the loss of 3 mill.
jobs . Most were protesting all of the above, and the very presence of Bush at the King tomb on this day .
The original plan of the APD was to move the crowd away from the area in which we had gathered directly across the Street from the tomb, on Auburn ave.
Albeit the crowd was peaceful, we were not going to let them push us out of site . And in an effort to avoid a very negative news story the APD didn't push it.
As I mentioned earlier there were protest signs, essentially everyone had one, they read- "This is not a photo op", "Bush - Zionist Puppet and War profiteer",
"Bush No More In 2004" ( my sign : ) , and another one I remember, and liked, was " You should read some of MLK's books, you have much to learn", it seemed
very appropriate . There were unified chants; "show us what democracy looks like, Bush is what hypocrasy looks like " and many others, we went back in forth
between various chants, sometimes breaking into song . It was elating . There was a reverential looking older black man with a bull horn, accompanied by several
other men with brass instruments who began an old spiritual, but were quickly quashed and ushered away by very big men in military fatiques . Tempers flaired mildly.
then the aforementioned men reappeared, singing and playing there instruments, only this time from much further away . Away from the front line . I still don't know what that was about . Yes I do.
The crowd chanted on, waving banners and signs of protest overhead . Word circulated through the crowd that Bush would not show up if protesters were present .
I began to wonder if that was a victory or a loss . I didn't want him there, but I wanted him to see us, and hear us . I thought that was important .
In spite of the rumors the crowd did not disperse . We as a united group of black, white, asian, and latin people, rich and poor, old and young decided we would stay until the last SS, and last police officer left, to be certain he would not show up with out us being there .
Suddenly a half dozen marta busses turned the corner, pulled up directly in front of us . Parked bumper to bumper, so that no one could squeeze through .
APD Red Dogs were dispatched atop of the buses, with guns, to prevent us from going over around or through . There were dozens of police on either side
of the buses standing in single file formation, facing the protesters . The prodigious Presidential Motorcade turned the corner followed by dozens of press corp.
vans. Not 1 photograph was taken of us by the press corp . It was obvious they wanted to . They were captivated by the crowd, they were staring at us, with
cameras half raised as if they were tempted to take a shot but didn't dare . They followed blindly or rather stumbled behind the Surrounded, out of site Bush .
There were there for a different reason . They had an agenda, even though perhaps not set by them .
This gesture of parking the buses between us and the President was a huge insult . It smacked of- I don' t see you, I don't hear you, I dont acknowledge you .
You don't have a voice . Frustrating, frightening . How far will this go ? Were will it end ?
Dozens of people crossed the line yesterday, they were quickly arrested . And though I am certain, or at least hopeful they were as quickly released, I can't help but wonder if the day will come when people who cross the line will be ushered off to Quantanomo . It is our responsibility to prevent this from happening .
If this should happen it will not be the Government that has failed; we will have failed ourselves . For the government is in midst of failing now .
As one of the chants went yesterday -" The people have the power if the poeple are united " . I am hopeful this is still true, but I can't help but wonder if it is .
Is it just lip service on our part ? Or can we unite as a people, and regain the power ? How far will we let things go, how many wars will we allow to be waged, and
innocent lives lost ? How many species must go extinct ? How ill must we get from the air we breath , the water we drink, and the food we eat ? What will it take for us to unite,and together crawl under, over , and around those buses that are parked between us and them . How must we be heard . How will we do it ? When will we do it ?
How far will we let them go before we cross the line ? Much is at stake now, much more than people know or realize . I fear the people that support Bush are unaware,
of all that is at stake, or perhaps somehow they believe they will end up on the same side of the buses as Bush .
I am frustrated that I have only questions, and no answers .
May we all have the courage those people demonstrated!