Line the Inaugural Route on January 20
Be there by 9:00 am!
Four years ago as George W. Bush rode in his limousine along the Inaugural parade route, he was met by a sea of vocal protestors and anti-Bush signs. Vividly captured in a dramatic scene from the movie Fahrenheit 9/11, the anti-Bush demonstrators lining the inaugural route on Pennsylvania Avenue became the dominant feature of the inauguration, his first day in office.
On January 20, 2005, 21 months after the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq and 39 months after the adoption of the USA Patriot Act, the Bush administration is planning to privatize Pennsylvania Avenue so that Corporate America and the ultra-right can line the route of march. To succeed they must push antiwar demonstrators and all those defending civil rights and civil liberties off to the margins and try to scare people into silence.
7,000 Endorsers: "We'll Line the Parade Route"
The January 20 call for a CounterInaugural antiwar demonstration was issued by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in June of 2004 and has now received the support of more than 7,000 endorsers. People are planning to come from all over the country to line the inaugural route. People are coming by bus, car and train because they are determined to line the inaugural route and let the world see that the people of the United States are taking a stand against the criminal war in Iraq and in defense of people's rights at home. The Bush White House, which has been greeted by massive condemnation and protests in every country he visits, is now worried about avoiding a huge political embarrassment in Washington, DC. They are fighting for legitimacy and working to divert or thwart the demonstrations.
Working through the Bush-Cheney Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) and the U.S. government, the White House is doing everything in its power to prevent a repeat of the 2001 CounterInaugural demonstration when tens of thousands of anti-Bush demonstrators lined Pennsylvania Ave. between 3rd St. and 15th St. and became the major world news story.
Don't Be Diverted
Bush and his billionaire supporters want to enjoy a sanitized coronation and remove all evidence to the world of just how much the people of the United States stand against this administration and their criminal conduct. They want the protestors who come to Washington to go anywhere but the parade route. Just like during the RNC in New York, the Bush administration wants protest to be relegated to other parts of the city.
The Bush administration and the government are trying to prevent people from effectively accessing the inaugural route. Some groups have announced plans that also divert protestors from lining the front of the inaugural route. Agreeing to permits from the government for demonstrations at far off places in Washington DC effectively removes anyone who attends these actions from being able to line the inaugural route. The Bush administration and the government know full well, from the experience of the January 20, 2001, CounterInaugural demonstration, that the only way anti-Bush protesters were able to secure a spot at the front of the inaugural route, and often even get in at all, was by arriving before 9 o'clock in the morning. In order to divert anti-Bush demonstrators four years ago, the government, using "national security" as a pretext (remember this was before September 11), established check points for the first time in the history of inaugural parades. Some groups have advocated that people who do go the parade route should conform to the administration's efforts to limit dissent by volunteering to be silent and carrying no signs. Those who were in DC four years ago well remember that the government and the Bush/Cheney PIC tried then to take our signs or scare people from bringing them, but we wouldn't let them - the route was packed with visible and undeniable opposition messages to the incoming administration. They tried to silence our voices, but we wouldn't let them - Pennsylvania Avenue echoed with the sound of thousands of people chanting against Bush.
Free Speech and the Permit Battle
It was only because of the determined effort of anti-Bush demonstrators, along with the legal efforts to secure protestors' rights initiated by the Partnership for Civil Justice and the National Lawyers Guild, that anti-Bush demonstrators overcame these obstacles and became a dominating political force at the inauguration.
On Monday, protest organizers from A.N.S.W.E.R. and their lawyers met with the National Park Service, which has been delaying meeting to discuss the permit requests. Despite the fact that A.N.S.W.E.R. applied nearly a year ago for areas along the inaugural route of Pennsylvania Avenue, law enforcement has stated that it will not yet tell the protest organizers whether and where they will grant inaugural route permits. Instead, they are asserting that they are waiting for the Bush-Cheney Presidential Inaugural Committee to decide how much space along the route it wants to consume and privatize. Those who reflect an antiwar view or a view in opposition to the Bush administration's domestic policies, according to the government, will come last, if at all. Law enforcement authorities refused to confirm that there would be equal access for those who are not paying Bush and Cheney for the privilege of standing along Pennsylvania Avenue and they also would not tell the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition what areas would be available to construct antiwar bleachers similar to those it permits the Bush/Cheney PIC to construct for each inauguration.
Corporate America Does Not Own Pennsylvania Avenue
In fact, the National Park Service has for this inauguration, just as it did for the last inauguration, itself taken out a permit in advance to sublet to the PIC and thereby deprive any opposition group equal access to the inaugural parade. The PIC is a private corporate-funded organization that is expected to raise $40 million from solicitations to the president's biggest campaign contributors - that is, from the biggest banks, corporations, oil and energy companies, and military contractors. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition asserts that the National Park Service has no right to privatize Pennsylvania Avenue on behalf of the Republican Party, the Bush administration, Corporate America and the Christian Right.
The PIC sent letters to potential donors in early December asking them to purchase a $250,000 "Underwriter Package" that will give them the tickets to exclusive inaugural balls and tickets to possess spots along the inaugural parade route on January 20. A $100,000 "Sponsor Package" offers most of the same benefits but omits a special lunch with President Bush.
Here is the civil rights, civil liberties issue at hand: Pennsylvania Avenue is described as "America's Main Street" on the White House website, on the website of the National Park Service and in a U.S. Senate Resolution. On January 20 every four years, the president-elect of the United States travels by limousine down "America's Main Street" before and after taking the Oath of Office on the steps of the Capitol. Bush wants to allow his supporters and his corporate constituents to take ownership over Pennsylvania Avenue to conduct a stage-managed sanitized spectacle bestowing legitimacy on his lawless enterprise. To accomplish this he must find a way to banish dissent from the scene of the planned spectacle.
Be there by 9:00 am!
We will not let this stand. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition calls on all those who want to hold a visible demonstration to come to the site of the inauguration, where the whole world will indeed be watching. Be there by 9:00 a.m. Make a pledge to be at the site of the inauguration. Don't let Corporate America, the Bush administration and the U.S. government make you invisible. We are launching a political struggle, and a legal effort, to secure the rights of the people to be visible on Pennsylvania Avenue with signs and slogans denouncing the Bush administration for its criminal war on Iraq and its anti-people policies at home. At the same time as we are continuing to secure permits along the parade route we want to make it clear to everyone you do not need a permit to come to Pennsylvania Avenue and to make your views known. Pennsylvania Avenue does not belong to Corporate America and the ultra-right. Everyone organizing buses, car caravans or individual transportation should be at Pennsylvania Ave. by 9:00 am on January 20.
We will demand:
1) US Out of Iraq Now, End the Occupation - Bring the Troops Home Now
2) End Colonial Domination from Palestine to Haiti, and Everywhere
3) Health Care, Education, Housing, and a Job at a Living Wage Must be a Right!
Help Organize Transportation
The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition will send out an email update in the next few days regarding logistics, bus drop off and other transportation information. If you are organizing transportation from your city, fill out the Transportation Form to list your information on the A.N.S.W.E.R. website and help spread the word.
Pledge now to support the January 20 demonstration. To endorse, click here.
Funds are urgently needed to make January 20 the visible and vocal display of opposition that Bush is trying desperately to thwart. You can make an urgently needed contribution for the January 20 mobilization through a secure server by clicking here, where you can also find information on how to contribute by check.
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Media coverage of free speech fight at CounterInaugural
Excerpt from the New York Times:
First Inauguration Since 9/11 Spurs Tightest Security
By Michael Janofsky
December 13, 2004
Brian Becker, national coordinator for the Answer Coalition, an antiwar and antiracism group, said he expected thousands of protesters to line the parade route "in a legal, spirited, peaceful demonstration," carrying signs calling for the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq and for Mr. Bush's impeachment.
Excerpt from Fox News:
Protesters Don't Feel the Love in D.C.
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
November 21, 2004
While the Department of Homeland Security recently designated the Jan. 20 inauguration a National Special Security Event, thus putting into place multi-agency security for the presidential swearing-in ceremony, parade and inaugural balls, protest organizers like Brian Becker of ANSWER (Act Now To Stop War And Racism) say the move is less a response to post-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist threats, and more a way to discourage demonstrators.
"It's not the first time that the Bush administration has used national security and the war on terrorism as a pretext to determine who can exercise free speech and whose free speech rights should be put on the back burner," Becker told FOXNews.com.
"The idea that the Army must be mobilized and the most extreme national security precautions announced three months ahead of time — that's not designed to intimidate 'terrorists', it's designed to intimidate protesters."
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
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