- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

From combined dispatches

Protesters will march through Washington, stage a “die in” across from the White House and turn their backs on President Bush’s limousine during his inaugural celebration next week, organizers said yesterday.

As U.S. authorities prepared unprecedented security for the event next Thursday, organizers said thousands of protesters will stage a noisy counterpoint to the lavish $40 million celebration.

One group of anti-war activists said it would carry 1,000 coffins to the White House and stage a “die in” to protest the lives lost in Iraq.

Another group said it had obtained a permit to protest along a 200-foot section of the parade route but planned to sue for more access to the large sections of Pennsylvania Avenue set aside for Bush supporters.

“The Bush administration, in conjunction with the National Park Service, is trying to stage-manage democracy,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney for the anti-war group International ANSWER — Act Now to Stop War & End Racism — Coalition.

ANSWER is planning to erect its own bleachers in the space, an open plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a few blocks from the Capitol, said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the group. The bleachers could seat up to 1,000 people, and the Park Service estimates up to 10,000 could fill the space standing shoulder to shoulder.

“I don’t think it’s ever happened in history that the anti-war movement has ever been able to have this kind of setup,” Mr. Becker said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Secret Service, which is overseeing security for the event, declined comment.

U.S. authorities plan to involve thousands of police, troops and bomb-sniffing dogs in the first inaugural event since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Spectators will pass through metal detectors before attending any inaugural events or watching the parade from the street.

Organizers said the protests were to express opposition to a range of Bush policies, from the war in Iraq to economic programs.

“We’re facing a right-wing future that has no sympathy for the concerns of black people and the poor in this country,” said Shazza Nzingha, founder of the National Alliance of Black Panthers.

An organization called Turn Your Back on Bush wants people to stake out spots along the parade route and turn their backs on Mr. Bush’s limousine when it rolls by.

“There are a lot of people who feel Bush has turned his back on them,” said field director Sarah Kauffman, adding that she is expecting busloads of participants from across the country.

In a separate act, black-clad anarchists will wave puppets and beat drums to protest capitalism and organized government, said Lila Kaye of Anarchist Resistance.

Mr. Bush’s inauguration plans also have drawn protests from the D.C. government, which says its security costs for the event should not come out of its Homeland Security budget.

“We the people of Washington, D.C., rejected Bush by over 90 percent” in the last election, said Washington resident Nancy Shia. “Maybe this is our punishment.”

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