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'Chorus of Dissent' greets Bush at St. Pat's Parade

George Bush was greeted with catcalls, jeers and ‘carols of dissent’ at his appearance at Chicago’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, sparking glares from political officials on the parade reviewing stand and outrage among Republican Party loyalists who had gathered to greet ‘Dubya’. Photos by Chris Geovanis & Dick Reilly/CIMC.
U.S. President George Bush was greeted with catcalls, protest signs and ‘carols of dissent’ during his appearance at Chicago’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 16, sparking glares from political officials on the parade reviewing stand and outrage among Republican Party loyalists who had gathered to greet ‘Dubya’.

Saturday’s anti-shrub actions included caroling by a group of activists assembled under the moniker the ‘Chorus of Dissent’, as well as a contingent of anti-war cyclists and pockets of protesters waving anti-administration and anti-war signs and banners along the Columbus Drive parade route.

“We’re here to protest the illegitimacy of this presidency and the awful policies of this administration,” said one ‘Chorus’ member. “Bush’s war on terrorism is really a war to protect corporate power at the expense of free speech and human rights,” said another protester.

Protesters came armed with a sweeping array of banners and signs that denounced Bush’s ties to the Enron debacle, called on the Bush regime to free hundreds of mostly Arab and East Asian detainees, condemned the administration's 'war on terrorism', and -- in a nod to the St. Patrick’s day holiday spirit -- derided the Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft ‘Axis o’ Evil’.

One particularly visible and powerful sign was drawn to mimic the ‘These Colors Don’t Run’ logo that has sprouted up across the country -- and reframed to say ‘These colors don’t bleed -- the innocent do.’

Chorus of Dissent participants spent more than an hour at the main reviewing stand singing tunes that included ‘We Should Impeach the Bogus King’ (sung to the tune of ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing’), ‘Georgy, Georgy is a Fascist (sung to the tune of ‘Glory, Glory, Hallelujah’), and ‘The Shady Bunch’ (sung to the tune of ‘The Brady Bunch’).

Republican Party loyalists at the reviewing stand tried to drown out protesters by shouting them down, telling them to go back to Afghanistan, jeering the invocation of free speech rights, and chanting ‘U.S.A! U.S.A!’ as Bush disembarked from his limousine. Bush opponents were undeterred, and continued to sing and chant relatively unmolested after Bush and his entourage hastily left the area.

Protesters passed out literature that documented a host of legislation, policies and funding cuts the Bush administration has rammed through since Dubya took power that they argue hurts the environment, displaced workers, the working poor and others. Those policies include cutting $39 million in federal funding to libraries; cutting $35 million for doctors’ pediatric training; revoking rules to reduce arsenic in drinking water; cutting 50% from research into renewable energy; Bush’s abandonment of a campaign pledge to invest $100 million for rain forest conservation; cutting 86% from a program that funds care for people without insurance; cutting $200 million in work-force training for displaced workers; cutting $700 million in capital funds for public housing repairs; Bush’s closing of the White House Office for Women’s Health Initiatives & Outreach; Bush’s gutting of the White House AIDS Office; and the Bush regime’s refusal to fund continued clean-up of a uranium-slag heap in Utah.

Many parade attendees -- outside of irked Bush loyalists -- seemed to welcome the protesters’ message.

One woman stopped to talk to 'Chorus' participants and said, “I want to stand by you all. The war in Afghanistan is stupid and terrible, and it’s really good that you’ve come out here to speak out.”

Another man with his wife and child stopped to talk to the protesters when he saw a sign of Bush with his lips sewn shut and ‘Enron’ tattooed to his forehead. “Man, that Enron thing is really something, with all those people losing their pensions. I’m unemployed myself so it’s good unemployment benefits are going to be expanded, but these guys in Washington -- all they do is talk, talk, talk while the rest of us struggle.”
 
 

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