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Bush's Phoenix visit incites protest

ACLU chapter director is among 7 arrested in demonstration

 by Matthew Garcia
 published on Monday, September 30, 2002

A protestor is arrested Friday at Phoenix Civic Plaza. About 1500 people showed up to rally for and against the presidential visit./issues/campusnews/285035
A protestor is arrested Friday at Phoenix Civic Plaza. About 1500 people showed up to rally for and against the presidential visit.
 

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Almost 1,500 anti-war demonstrators converged in downtown Phoenix on Friday outside a fundraiser attended by President Bush.

Bush was a speaker at the $700-a-plate dinner that raised $700,000 for Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon's campaign.

Approximately 1,500 Salmon supporters attended the dinner, which was hosted at the Civic Center Plaza.

The crowd of mostly peaceful anti-war demonstrators, ranging from teenagers to senior citizens, marched from Patriot Square Park in downtown Phoenix to Civil Center Plaza.

The rally organizer, Kyrsten Sinema, said the demonstration was a success.

"There was so many more people than we expected," Sinema said.







Click here for a slideshow of the protest.



The group of protesters ranged from mainstream Democrats to anti-globalization demonstrators who carried signs that read "No Blood for Oil."

According to 77-year-old protester Ann Timmer and several of her companions from the Sun City retirement community, they don't agree with going to war with Iraq.

"So many things need to be dealt with here in America before we can deal with Iraq," Timmer said. "We have issues here with poverty, unemployment and civil rights."

Inside the Civic Center, President Bush devoted a large portion of his speech to talk about strengthening homeland security and called Saddam Hussein "a true American threat." Meanwhile, outside the protesters chanted, "One, two, three, four, we don't want your father's war."

Ben Kearl, interdisciplinary studies senior and member of the Young Democratic Socialists, said Bush shouldn't go to war with Iraq because too few Americans support the idea.

"Our generation doesn't want to go through a war based on special interests," Kearl said.

As Bush supporter Dominic Escamilla forced his way through the crowd of protesters to make his way to the dinner, he said the protest was "insulting."

"These [protesters] don't understand what it is to be an American," Escamilla said.

For Vernon McGarvey, who was visiting from Texas for a religious convention that was also held at the Civic Center, the protest was a big surprise.

"We had no idea this would be going on," McGarvey said. "A lot of people have died so these people could express themselves like this."

Not only anti–war protesters turned out for the rally. Several people attended the event to express their loyalty to President Bush.

"I'm here to support my president, so he knows some people still love him," said Christina Corieri, a member of the ASU College Republicans.

At the peak of the rally, demonstrators were flooding into the streets, temporarily stopping traffic at Third Street and Washington Avenue.

Thereafter, riot police marched into the crowd to intervene.

Phoenix Police reported seven demonstrators were arrested in clashes with riot police, including the American Civil Liberties Union Arizona chapter executive director, Eleanor Eisenburg.

According to Sinema, the arrests were disappointing.

"It was frustrating to see innocent people get arrested," Sinema said. She added that the ACLU has provided attorneys for all the demonstrators who were arrested.

According to Sinema, the protest illustrated the division the nation is currently facing.

"This shows that things are changing," Sinema said.

Charlie Collins, an organic farmer from Phoenix, agreed, saying it was surprising to see such a large protest in a conservative city like Phoenix.

"If this kind of stuff is happening here, it's going to get ugly in other parts of the country," Collins said.

Sinema said a protest is also scheduled for Vice President Cheney's visit on Oct. 15.

"We're not sure where Cheney is scheduled to speak," Sinema said. "But wherever Cheney goes, we'll be there."

Reach reporter at matthew.garcia3@asu.edu.



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