- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2001

A coalition of conservatives is mobilizing to support President-elect George W. Bush on Inauguration Day while radical anti-establishment activists are planning demonstrations.
"I think we will present a real contrast from a bunch of kids all dressed in black who dislike America, what the country stands for, and are waving big puppets," said James Parmelee, a conservative rally organizer who lives in Fairfax County, Va.
The Northern Virginia Republican Political Action Committee, a network of conservatives, has momentum from rallies it staged in Florida and the District during the five weeks of legal wrangling after the presidential election. The independent grass-roots group is not affiliated with the state Republican Party.
Mr. Parmelee, the group's chairman, said conservatives from across the country will converge on the District of Columbia to "provide a counterbalance to the leftists and the media attention they will get against George W. Bush."
"We're not professional protesters. We don't travel from Seattle to Washington to protest," he said. "We're from Middle America, with all ages and all races of people who support the democratic process."
Meanwhile, the Justice Action Movement (JAM), a key group organizing anti-Bush demonstrations, was scheduled to meet last night to plan tactics for Jan. 20. Many JAM activists participated in anti-World Bank rallies in the District in April and anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999.
Plans by anti-establishment activists and liberals such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have motivated conservatives to counter their rallies, Mr. Parmelee said.
Final plans are not in place, but conservative organizers likely will stage a counterprotest near Mr. Sharpton's "shadow inauguration" at the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 20, Mr. Parmelee said.
As for anti-establishment radicals, "if they resort to doing some of the things they were doing in Seattle, I'm not sure how our folks would react," Mr. Parmelee said. "I'm not sure they're going to get away with that.
"We just want to get out there and express our support for George W. Bush and [Vice President-elect] Dick Cheney, and let America know we're behind them," said Mr. Parmelee.
He has teamed up with other conservative groups Loud Citizen and Free Republic to prepare counterprotest tactics, transportation and housing for supporters coming from across the country.
Taking a cue from their counterparts on the fringe, the conservatives are using the Internet for their plans, including some countersurveillance.
On www.loudcitizen.com, several persons posted messages of concern about anti-inauguration protest plans already circulating in cyberspace.
Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said additional groups create a potential for confrontations, but he doesn't anticipate any big problems.
"Certainly, any time you have groups and countergroups, the potential to have something happen is always there," Chief Ramsey said.
"This, however, becomes more complicated because you'll have so many people there to observe the inauguration, and [protesters] can move about and not be recognized," the chief said.
Based on how protesters for Vice President Al Gore and Mr. Bush conducted themselves during rallies after the election, Chief Ramsey said, "I don't think there's going to be a clash between the two groups. We'll just have to deal with it as it comes along and not get in the middle of it unless it's necessary."
The conservative rallies won't bother the anti-establishment activists, who plan to put 10,000 demonstrators on the streets, said Adam Eidinger, a local JAM spokesman.
"We're going to try to avoid those people," he said. "That's the best thing we can do.
"Our problem is with George Bush and the Republican administration. We're going to send a message to them, and to the members of Congress. We want action, not lip service. They need to work on these issues," he said.
Yet Mr. Eidinger suggested that conservatives might provoke a confrontation. "If they touch any of us, they will be committing assault, and they know that. And we expect the police to enforce the law," he said.
Liberals, such as Mr. Sharpton, also said they are not worried about the conservatives.
"They are of no concern to me at all," Mr. Sharpton told The Washington Times in a telephone interview yesterday.
"They're the ones who don't want me to be heard," he said. "If they want to march, they're welcome to it. We'll have enough numbers there to make our message heard, and we'll see what they're numbers are."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide