Protest Groups, Too, Prepare for the President's Big Day

From nondescript headquarters a dozen blocks from the Capitol, a coalition of groups linked by their opposition to the war in Iraq and other administration policies are organizing their own inauguration events. Those include a determined effort to jeer the presidential motorcade as it carries Mr. Bush from his swearing-in at the Capitol to a reviewing stand at the White House.

"Our goal is to make sure Inauguration Day reflects the great divisions that exist in the United States right now," said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the coalition, known as Answer, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. "Bush is trying to assert he has a mandate. We will show that a big part of the American people do not believe he has one."

Brian Pic from NYTimes 1/13 
Other groups are also planning demonstrations. At a news conference on Wednesday, leaders of five groups, including the National Alliance of Black Panthers and D.C. Anarchist Resistance, discussed plans that include anti-Bush rallies, marches, a bicycle ride and at least one act of civil disobedience.

The D.C. Anti-War Network is organizing a "die-in" march that it says will end with 1,000 cardboard coffins, representing people killed in recent American military actions, being taken to Lafayette Park, across from the White House.

Only one group described plans to create a presence during the presidential parade. Turn Your Back on Bush, a grassroots organization, is coordinating an effort to have people find spaces at the street curb and turn their backs to Mr. Bush as his motorcade passes.

Doug Mills/The New York Times Brian Becker, national coordinator for Answer, an anti-Bush coalition, discussing plans for his group's Inauguration Day protest activities.

"A great many people feel Bush has turned his back on them," said Sarah Kauffman, a field director for the group.

Ms. Kauffman and representatives of the other groups said they did not anticipate violence or the kinds of confrontations with the police that have led to mass arrests elsewhere. But Shahid Buttar, a spokesman for the D.C. Resistance Media Collective, which is helping coordinate protest events for dozens of groups, added, "There is a great deal about which no one knows."

Tom Mazur, a spokesman for the Secret Service, which is coordinating security for the inauguration events, said plans already took protest activities into consideration. He emphasized that protesters would be treated respectfully so long as their demonstrations remained peaceful.

As a safeguard, the Secret Service is prohibiting spectators from carrying signs or posters attached to handles.

"Our goal," Mr. Mazur said, "is a safe inaugural for participants as well as the general public."

Mr. Becker's coalition, Answer, has organized 15 anti-Bush events in Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles since 2001, most of them criticizing administration policies in Iraq.

The demonstrations have attracted several hundred thousand people, and some have turned rowdy, leading to many arrests. Last summer, nearly 2,000 people protesting the Republican National Convention in New York, many of them as part of Answer activities, were arrested.

The coalition has always had an overriding aim, Mr. Becker said, to draw attention to policies that many Americans oppose, particularly those that involve military activities in Iraq.

Bill Line, a spokesman for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, which controls the sidewalk along the parade route, said the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a private organization that is coordinating the major inaugural events, has received permits for most of the prime viewing space along the parade route. Bleachers have been set up, and seats are being sold for as much as $125 each.

Among the other three groups that applied for parade route access, Mr. Line said, Answer received nine permits, the largest number for locations at or near the street, although just two of them provide unobstructed views. The other two groups favor Bush administration policies.

At the larger of the two areas reserved for Answer, near the bottom of Capitol Hill, the coalition plans to make its biggest splash, constructing bleachers and filling them at no charge with people bearing signs that express outrage over the administration's involvement in Iraq.

"I'm not thinking that our presence will have a deep impact on George Bush's thinking," Mr. Becker said, describing an area that could hold as many as 10,000. "But we have a goal of building a movement as people did during the Vietnam War, making it impossible for politicians of any stripe to ignore. Wherever Bush or supporters of the war in Iraq go, we want them to be met by visible antiwar demonstrations."

Mr. Becker said Answer also had serious concerns over the lack of greater public access to unobstructed views of the parade.

Mr. Line said that people without tickets would be welcome to fill open spaces between bleachers but that it would be up to the Secret Service to allow spectators to pass through checkpoints.

Homeland Security to Help Pay

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (AP) - The Department of Homeland Security told the District of Columbia government on Wednesday to use federal homeland security money to pay the costs it will incur for the inauguration.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams said the city was still trying to have the federal government repay it for all inaugural costs so it would not have to divert homeland security money. The federal government has traditionally reimbursed the city's inauguration costs, which are expected to be at least $17.3 million, city officials said.

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