- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

A loose coalition of national and local activist groups apparently have no fear of protesting too much, already planning several demonstrations for this week, regardless of the outcome of Election Day.

Groups bearing grievances from voter fraud to the war in Iraq plan to demonstrate today at Dupont Circle.

Shahid Buttar, a community organizer for Beyond Voting, said his group will join others on the District’s streets this week to protest the “hijacking of democracy.”

“What unites these actions is the recognition of the failures of the electoral system to provide meaningful democracy to American citizens,” Mr. Buttar, 30, said.

Today, demonstrators will gather at Dupont Circle at 8 a.m. and march to Lafayette Park, where another rally will begin at 6 p.m. Another protest at Dupont Circle has been planned for Saturday afternoon.

Visitors to www.beyondvoting.org are told: “Nov. 2: To the polls! Nov. 3: To the streets!” Mr. Buttar said he expects a large turnout if President Bush is re-elected.

The group has joined other groups such as No Stolen Elections and This Time We’re Watching to provide support for grass-roots protesters.

Beyond Voting also is planning protests in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, New York, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

Local organizers said they did not contact law-enforcement officials to request permission to hold the rallies.

Ron Blain, a representative of the division of parks programs for the National Park Service, said the parks system granted a permit to the Christian Defense Coalition to protest in Lafayette Park yesterday, but had not received requests from any other groups.

U.S. Park Police officers plan to monitor the 300 demonstrators expected for the Christian Defense Coalition rally, Mr. Blain said, adding that officers might be forced to crack down on protesters who do not have permission to use the park space.

“If you don’t have a permit, then in all likelihood the Park Police will ask you to leave,” he said.

Park regulations stipulate that groups whose numbers exceed 25 must have a permit to organize in the area. Protest organizers said they were not sure how many people would participate in the demonstrations.

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