Pittsburgh/Beaver Protest, 2/28/01
After Bush's speech last night, I added some signs for the tax-cut theme--his
entire agenda last night was to sugar coat this anal laxative to make
it sound appealing, after adding the bone he threw to racial profiling
(hypocritically, after one of the techniques that got him into office
was a voter purge BASED on racial and political profiling). At the last
minute, I added some posters--"Don't Trickle Down on Me,"
and "Remember the '80s"--to the sign repertoire.
On the way to Beaver, which is near the Pittsburgh Int'l airport, we
spotted at least one hundred state and county police cars, speeding
along the highway or sitting on every overpass, at every mile marker,
and every exit. The place was crawling with cops.
We missed several of our expected protestors; some didn't show at expected
pickup spots. But the good news is that our small cadre was nimble,
active and vociferous. We were able to infiltrate the fifty or so Bush
supporters with their "God bless you, Mr. (p)Resident" signs,
to edge toward the road's curb, and to stick "Not Elected,"
"Rejected, Not Elected," "No Mandate," "Ask
me about D.B.T." signs in their faces, and Bush's face as rode
by like a dumby.
With a Secret Service man eyeing us, we stood on a corner cloverleaf
just before the street that tumbleweed and his enterouge would turn
into-- Vince, a long-time Pittsburgh, university-military-contract protestor;
Kevin Hoover, who orchestrated the three buses to D.C. from Pittsburgh
for the Installation; and three other protestors, including Maggie--all
were quite upbeat and in-their-faces. Several others whom I don't know,
joined in later. Vince is a pacifist and adopts a less aggressive posture
than I do. He went to the curb to put his sign up, and was pushed into
the street by two Repugnican thugs. He said, "God bless you."
I basically shout, yell, and rattle off facts, figures, observations
and thoughts, for the whole crowd to hear. As some can attest, this
gets Repugnican mobsters to challenge me, often physically. I avoid
all that, by saying, "Hey, I'm not trying to count votes here,
you don't have to hit ME!" and then I laugh.
Bush supporters told us to "get a job," "get a life,"
and "get the hell out of here," over and over. After I told
them that I have two jobs, they left off that theme, and told me they'd
"pray for my students." I said, "either that or you could
have Bush drop bombs on them!" I went on, "if they're brown
or black, either bomb or disenfranchise them," that's the G.O.P.
The very encouraging sign was that their children, mostly teens, were
more than a little curious about us, and several said quietly that they
want to join us, at which point their parents gave facial expressions
that told them they might not eat for a month if they did so.
I filled the kids in on the facts--specifically about the vote "recount"
(re-enactment of the election fraud) in the Herald, the Database Technologies
voter purge, the conflicts of interest of the Supreme Injustices in
Bush v. Gore, and the real vote counting that is still proceeding. (Incidentally,
the conflict of interest issue was the most silencing to their parents--they
don't know what to do with that one at all).
Several press photographers took our pictures, and I was interviewed
by the local paper. He was very, very thorough and asked me to tell
him what "D.B.T." meant (exactly why I made the sign, "Ask
me about D.B.T."). I explained that this stood for Database Technologies,
the company hired by Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris to intentionally
cast as wide a net as possible and to intentionally include as "felons"
thousands of voters who weren't felons, and that this was aimed at African
Americans. I referred to the Nation article and the BBC broadcast. He
had seen the B.B.C. I told him that there are strong indications that
Nightline will be doing this story soon. He was very sympathetic and
After Shrub had entered "Control Concepts Corporation" (which
name is very appropos, methinks, as it represents the Republican plan
perfectly--control the concepts with corporate lies), we waited for
another half hour, and got photographed more, stood in front of a captive
audience of cars and trucks, and held our signs high.
All in all, I think we were successful in that we gained notice, put
the shrub and his holders on notice that we are not going away, and
that the facts will not disappear, despite a massive propaganda campaign
to the contrary.
A note for future protest planners: Shrub's handlers kept the whole
city in the dark until 24 hours ahead of time as to the exact time and
location of his visit. This made organizing very difficult, and put
our backs to the wall. Try to tell everyone to be on stand-by and arrange
the day flexibly. The last minute divulgence of time/place accounted
for our loss of at least 20 potential protestors, if not more.
Thanks to all who helped in getting the word out!
Michael Rectenwald, CLG Founder and Chair