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2005-01-21

Scenes from the Streets of DC: Democracy Now! Speaks With Supporters and Critics of Bush’s Inauguration

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Democracy Now! takes to the streets of Washington DC to speak with protesters, who faced off against the massive security apparatus deployed in the nation’s capital, as well as supporters of President Bush’s second inauguration. [includes rush transcript]

Amid the massive security operation in Washington DC for the inauguration, thousands of people marched through the capital to demonstrate their opposition to a wide range of policies of the Bush administration, particularly the occupation of Iraq. Many thousands more made it onto the actual parade route and held antiwar signs. Some people turned their backs as Bush’s motorcade passed by. In addition to the disruption of the inauguration just before Bush was sworn in, there was at least one other action during the ceremony. Activists from CODEPINK were detained by police after they chanted during Bush’s speech. Meanwhile, in the streets outside the parade route, activists faced off against a sizable police presence. A number of times throughout the day, police fired chemical agents at demonstrators and beat people with metal whip-like canes. Democracy Now! camera crews were on the streets. Here is some of the action.

  • Protesters speaking on the streets of Washington DC.

Thousands of Bush supporters were waiting in long security lines to get onto the parade grounds. In a number of cases, men in cowboy hats and women in mink fur coats were fully immersed in crowds of young activists–mainly Black Bloc–wearing bandanas on their faces. The activists forced the closure of at least 2 entry points leaving many Bush supporters out of the parade. We talked with some of these stranded Bush supporters in the streets outside of the inaugural parade.

  • Supporters of President Bush speaking outside of the inaugural parade.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! camera crews were on the streets, and we talked to some of those engaged in protest.

CHARLES HOMER: My name is Charles Homer. I’m from Brandywine, Maryland, and I’m here to protest the inauguration of the war President, George Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: Why come out today? Why are you protesting?

CHARLES HOMER: I’m here because we should be working towards peace and George Bush started a war based on lies, and he wants to continue his war for defense contract money or whatever reasons he has and I’m against it.

CHARLES HOMER: George Bush is not helping to heal wounds. I think he’s throwing salt in the wounds by continuing this war, and as of today 1,370 people, Americans, have been killed in Iraq, and he’s calling for, you know, more troops to go over there. I say, bring ’em home.

COOKIE SMITH: I’m from Wilmington, Delaware. I’m here because I am really against Bush’s policies, especially in the Iraq war, and also here at home with all of the violence and problems that are going on here at home. I think we need to concentrate on that. I think we need to come out of Iraq right away. He is saying there’s not going to be a draft, but I don’t believe that. I have a 23-year-old daughter, several nephews and nieces that are in that age group, and I say my daughter and my nieces and nephews can go when Barbara and Jenna go.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you with a group?

COOKIE SMITH: Turn Your Back On Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re going in to do that?

COOKIE SMITH: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: What is "Turn Your Back On Bush"? What do they do?

COOKIE SMITH: It’s an organization. We’re peaceful. We’re non-violent. We’re here to turn our back on Bush when he rides by. We are going to turn our backs, because we don’t believe his policies and his — what he has done for the country for the past four years. A lot of us, we are not wealthy. We didn’t get the big tax cuts. Really want to unite this nation but, you know, Bush is the not the person to do it.

ELIZABETH MCALLISTER: I’m Elizabeth McAllister, with the Joan House community in Baltimore, I’m walking today because of the obscenity that this administration is, and the coronation is part of the obscenity.

PROTESTER: We were approaching the police line, suddenly they started pepper spraying us. We got pushed from behind and we got pushed back from ahead. The cops pushed me back. They knocked my glasses off and they pepper sprayed me from right here. As then I tried to get up, they kicked me a few more times and they threw me down as I tried to get back — they must have thrown me down three or four times as I tried to get back to the other people who were going away.

NATHAN CULPITZ: I’m Nathan Culpitz, and I’m here because I’m sick of what George Bush is doing to our country.

AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from?

NATHAN CULPITZ: From New Hampshire.

AMY GOODMAN: You came from New Hampshire?

NATHAN CULPITZ: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

NATHAN CULPITZ: Because I don’t like what Bush is doing and I don’t support him. I just don’t think that he deserves to be President of this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Some people are saying this is a day when everyone should come together. It’s the inauguration of everyone’s President.

NATHAN CULPITZ: I agree, I think we should come together against the President. We’re together but not together for the President.

AMY GOODMAN: Hi, and who are you?

MR. CULPITZ: I’m his father.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

MR. CULPITZ: I brought him down for his birthday. I’m so furious because they won’t let us in to see the inauguration because we have these un-American backpacks.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you have tickets?

MR. CULPITZ: I didn’t know you needed tickets. I thought it was a public event.

PROTESTER: We have backpacks with food and clothing in them and they won’t let us in because we have backpacks.

PROTESTER: During the inauguration period there was a senior citizen standing in front of us. She had a sign and she couldn’t see and she was obviously tired and wanted to sit down. There was a small place where people with tickets were being let in, and woman said, okay, now, any senior citizens or young children who don’t have tickets can come in, and when the old lady asked to go in, she said, "You have to get rid of the sign."

AMY GOODMAN: What did the sign say?

PROTESTER: The sign had a picture of Bush and Cheney behind bars, and it said, "I have a dream".

AMY GOODMAN: Just some of the voices of protest in the streets of Washington, D.C. on this Inauguration, 2005. As other activists faced off against police in the streets, thousands of Bush supporters were waiting in long security lines to get into the parade grounds. In a number of cases, men in cowboy hats and women in mink fur coats were fully immersed in crowds of young activists wearing bandanas on their faces. The activists forced the closure of at least two entry points leaving many Bush supporters out of the parade. We talked with some of those stranded Bush supporters in the streets outside the inaugural procession route.

PAT ROAN: I am Pat Roan. I’m from Dallas, Texas. I love Bush. I love his family, and I love America.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you know his family?

PAT ROAN: Actually, they go to our church. And — in Dallas at Highland Park Methodist, and occasionally when Laura is in Dallas, she comes and sits right in front of us.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you like about President Bush?

BUSH SUPPORTER: I like his beliefs. I like his policies, and I think he’s a truly honest man, and I think he’s going to lead our country into a better role in the world — and the world into a better world.

AMY GOODMAN: What was his message today?

BUSH SUPPORTER: His message today, I think, was about freedom and bringing freedom to the world.

AMY GOODMAN: And how was the inauguration?

MATT: Fantastic. What a patriotic day.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you most like about President Bush?

MATT: His faith-valued ways to run the — United States, and all of the things that he is doing. Obviously, we have to break into a war to make some right things happen. I think a lot of people demonstrating do not understand what’s going on in Iraq. And if they understood, they would understand why we are there.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are we there?

MATT: To clean up a dynasty of Hussein. He was dominating and killing everybody and a lot of folks don’t fully understand that.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned about the service men and women who are coming home in body bags, wounded.

MATT: Absolutely. I mean that’s just the cost of national and worldwide freedom, so… That’s a definite — that has to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?

MATT: Matt.

AMY GOODMAN: And what’s your name?

JOHN: John.

AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from?

JOHN: Indianapolis as well.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you think of the inauguration.

JOHN: Fabulous display of democracy in this world.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the issue that is most important to you?

JOHN: World peace, and you get world peace by doing away with people that don’t want peace. And if you don’t show strength through what we stand for, then somebody else is going to be stronger and has to take us over. So, we have to show our strength and put our foot down and do away with tyranny.

AMY GOODMAN: You said do away with people who don’t want peace, what do you mean by that.

JOHN: People like Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, the dictators of the world that are more interested in their own greed and power than allowing people to have their freedom and peace in this world.

VIVIAN HUDSON: We have enjoyed it very much. We’re very pleased with George Bush winning, very, very pleased.

AMY GOODMAN: What was his message?

VIVIAN HUDSON: His message was: "Ownership of society for everybody." Everybody in this country is going to own their part of the American dream.

AMY GOODMAN: Where are from you?

VIVIAN HUDSON: I am from Cuba, and I own a part of the American dream, because instead of fooling around, I work hard, and I made it.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the protest here today?

VIVIAN HUDSON: I think they are entitled, because that’s what America is about. You know, everybody has freedom of speech.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. Your name?

VIVIAN HUDSON: Vivian Hudson.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: For soldiers who come back and say it’s wrong, and for the poll that just said that most people actually think the Iraq invasion was wrong, the situation is bad now in Iraq, what do you say?

BUSH SUPPORTER: I disagree because I think that the people, especially the women there are much better off than they were before. And I think we did make some mistakes, but I think President Bush is admitting what he has done wrong. Maybe a little bit — he was a little bit ahead of himself on some things, but overall, I think he is a good man. He is a fabulous person, and they don’t understand. He has got a good heart.

AMY GOODMAN: Hi. How did you enjoy the inauguration?

LINDA WORDEN: Just fine. This is the first chance to support the troops. I enjoyed it immensely. I was here four years ago and It was drizzling. So, this is much better weather.

AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from?

LINDA WORDEN: Rhode island.

AMY GOODMAN: What was President Bush’s message?

LINDA WORDEN: President Bush’s message is that we’re going to stay on track with the war in Iraq. It’s our duty and obligation to help other people that are not as free as we are.

AMY GOODMAN: And how do you feel about the protests?

LINDA WORDEN: They have a right to do it. They did get out of hand. They were throwing things at people. I did exchange a few words with some persons, totally on a philosophical point of view. We weren’t arguing or anything. They have a right to do it.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of people protesting war and saying support our troops, bring them home?

LINDA WORDEN: You’re not supporting the troops by protesting the war. If you are protesting the war, you’re not supporting the troops because you’re not sticking up for what the troops are doing or what the troops believe in. All the media talks about are the one or two that are dissenting, but the majority of the troops over there are not dissenting with the President, and they feel good about what they’re doing over there. They feel they’re accomplishing something for the Iraqi people.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you know anyone there?

LINDA WORDEN: My son.

AMY GOODMAN: Where is he?

LINDA WORDEN: He’s in Baghdad.

AMY GOODMAN: How long has he been there?

LINDA WORDEN: He has been there since last March.

AMY GOODMAN: How is it for him now?

LINDA WORDEN: He constantly calls me or writes me and says things are going well. He did call me and say that they have stepped things up, and — but he feels good about what he is doing. Because he sees the people in Iraq. He trains the Iraqi National Guard. So, he knows that he’s doing something good for their country.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?

LINDA WORDEN: Linda Worden.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s his name?

LINDA WORDEN: Gregory.

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