A Tale of Two Protests
Charlotte, NC -- September 19, 2004
On Friday, Sept. 17 George Bush made two stops in Charlotte. He was greeted by protesters at both locations.
Bush's first stop was at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart for a so-called "Forum On Women's Issues". Due to the heavy police presence only a half dozen protesters were able to make it to the front of the Merchandise Mart. The police made it extremely hard to get there by such tactics as not allowing people to cross the street and not giving them information on how it was possible to get to where the protest was. Many people told the Action Center For Justice (local International Action Center affiliate and organizer of the protest) that they gave up after feeling it was impossible to get to the planned gathering area. The people that did make it however braved the pouring rain to make sure there opposition was heard and felt. They carried such signs as "Bush Is A War Criminal", "Bush Lied! Thousands Died!", and "W Is Not For Women". The protesters were particularly enthusiastic when Bush's motorcade passed directly in front of them.
The Bush supporters showed their true colors as they were passing the protest on their way out by shouting obscenities and holding up their middle fingers at the protesters. One protester heckled them back whenever they rolled down their windows by shouting "End The Occupation! Peace Now!" repeatedly, drowning at their childish name-calling. The slow moving traffic on the outbound four lane E. Independence Blvd gave the protesters support with honks, waves, peace signs, and shouts of approval.
Later in the afternoon Bush held a fundraiser in Charlotte's wealthy Eastover neighborhood at the richest man in North Carolina's house, C.D. "Dick" Spangler, Jr. (yes, that's right, he calls himself "Dick Spangler"). The protesters gathered in front of Eastover Park, which is where the Republican attendees of the fundraiser were parking and being shuttled to the fundraiser. Protesters marched through the neighborhood and got within a few houses of the fundraiser before being blocked by the cops from going any further. After a short time the protest moved back to the front of Eastover Park where they would be visible to passing traffic. They again were given much support from passing motorists.
After a short time in front of the park, the Bush supporters began leaving, having no choice but to drive by the protesters. Bush supporters again shouted obscenities and gave protesters the finger. Several protesters heckled them back. To everyone's disbelief, a Bush supporter drove up onto the sidewalk directly at protester Alex Kramer forcing him onto the hood of the car. The driver than accelerated, put on the brakes and reversed throwing Alex onto the ground. Alex was almost hit again as the car sped off. The protesters got the license number of the car and reported the incident to the police. Alex went to the hospital and is okay. (To see his report, click here.)
In all, twenty-six people participated at the afternoon protest and let Bush know what they thought of him. Plans were made to host a reception for Workers World Party Candidates (http://www.vote4workers.org) when they come to Charlotte Oct. 21 and many attending the protest said they would be there.
David Dixon, Action Center For Justice
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