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Thousands Fill D.C. Streets to Protest Bush's "Election"

Thousands of demonstrators lined the streets of Washington to protest Bush’s inauguration. "Hail to the Thief" was a common cry questioning the legitimacy of Bush’s election.
WASHINGTON D.C. -- Thousands of demonstrators descended on Washington streets today to protest George W. Bush’s inauguration and question the legitimacy of his election.

Up to 20,000 or 30,000 protesters were expected at the various rallies sponsored by the International Action Center, National Organization of Women, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Center and dozens of smaller organizations.

Thousands of protesters also gathered throughout the country including in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to show solidarity against Bush’s "coronation."

"It is a great American ceremony that doesn’t mean much about who has power in this country," said Ralph Nader in an interview with the Independent Media Center today. "It is the soothing transition between two administrations both of which take their orders from big business, the same big businesses that pumped $35 million of their monies into this weekend’s ceremonies."

Even Bush acknowledged – perhaps not consciously – the disunion in America following the election.

"While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country," said Bush during his Inauguration speech. "The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth."

But Bush never connected the injustice in America and his own election which rested on the disenfranchisement of thousands of black and minority voters in Florida and elsewhere.

"He stole the vote," said Ethyl Tobch, 79, of New York City. "The fact that the people’s votes were absolutely stolen plus the checkpoints are very frightening. It makes you feel like you are in a real dictatorship,"

Tobch traveled to D.C. as part of a mass contingent of demonstrators organized by the National Organization of Women.

For the first time in history, Washington police set up checkpoints that everyone had to pass through in order to get near the parade route. Protest organizers from the International Action Center had challenged the constitutionality of the checkpoints, but a court ruled Friday that police would be allowed to stop and check anyone at the 10 sites.

While 7,000 police and law enforcement officers were on duty today, there were far fewer reports of protester-police violent encounters or arrests compared to recent demonstrations in Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

"People have to come up with creative solutions to the type of denial of the right of assembly and the freedom to express yourself," said Molly Norton of New York of the bag searches at the checkpoints.

Despite the checkpoints, protests were able to line Pennsylvania Avenue with signs reading such things as "Hail to the Thief" and "Revote. Revolt."

"I think if young people get excited about our government it is really important," said Sister Maria, a 76-year-old Episcopalian nun known as "The Racing Blue Nun."

Numerous protesters proudly highlighted the array of voices opposed to Bush and his Administration. Members from N.O.W. marched alongside the Black Bloc, backers of Leonard Peltier chanted in unison with Black Panthers, Puerto Rican nationalists demanding a free Vieques danced in the street near dozen of activists calling for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s freedom.

The mainstream media also came under attack. Outside the Washington Post building this morning, hundreds of demonstrators chanted "Fuck Corporate Media."



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