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5000 Protest Bush Speech in Cincinnati -eyewitness account

Thousands protested in Cincinnati yesterday [Monday, Oct 7th]. Demonstration built itself on 3 days notice. Turnout remarkable in region thought to be pro-Bush. Participation from principly from churches and area high schools and colleges, but also from labor and civil rights groups.
lar chants was one taken from earlier anti-globalization protests in Seattle a few years ago: "This is what democracy looks like."

After most of the protesters had returned to nearby Laurel Park for a closing rally, a group of a few hundred blocked the exit from the Museum Center parking lot, keeping several hundred of Bush's audience from leaving up to an hour. Officers on horseback rode through the crowd attempting to disperse it, and eventually the group broke up. Police arrested half-a-dozen demonstrators.

Improving the Political Environment

While the widespread opposition to the war accounted for the unprecedented turnout, there were also some local factors. The Cincinnati anti-war protest, the largest in decades, can also be explained in part by two-years of almost continuous activism in the city. The new activist climate began in November 2000 when the Coalition for a Human Economy (CHE), a local anti-globalization group, began protests against the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialog (TABD), and then carried on by organizing against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

When Cincinnati police shot and killed an unarmed African American youth, Timothy Thomas in April of 2001, those mainly white activists joined with African American community organizations, such as the Black United Front, in protest rallies and demonstrations. By June 2, 1001 local civil rights activists had organized a March for Justice that involved 2,500 marchers, the largest integrated demonstration in Cincinnati's modern history. Later many of those activists formed the Coalition for a Justice Cincinnati (CJC), one of several groups calling for a boycott of the city because of its history of economic apartheid and police racism and violence.

All along activists for social justice had to deal with a repressive city government and police force that attempted to suppress their movement, sometimes violently. Police used shotguns loaded with beanbags to shoot mourners at Thomas's funeral, and met other protests with massive numbers of officers in riot gear. But in those two years, Cincinnati social justice activists won the right to march and protest, and made it a legitimate part of the city's political life. At the same time, in the course of those two years of protests, the city created a dedicated core of local activists.

But, above all it was opposition to the war that brought some 5,000 people to fill the streets near the Museum Center, chanting to peace, opposing war, and denying Bush the approval he had wanted from what was once the Midwest's most conservative city. Seems like it isn't any more.


*Dan La Botz is a Cincinnati-based writer, teacher, and activist. His latest book is Made in Indonesia: Indonesian Workers Since Suharto published by South End Press.



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