Anger Fuels Inaugural Protesters
David Montgomery and Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writers
raw wounds left by the presidential election finale have created
irritation to unleash one of the largest inauguration protests
according to veteran organizers and police officials.
will be by far the biggest counter-inauguration since the 1973
counter-inauguration," predicted Brian Becker, co-director of
Action Center in New York, who has demonstrated at numerous
presidential swearing-in events. "We organize protests not infrequently,
and we know when something has legs and when it doesn't
have legs. This one does."
the second inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon, police
there were 25,000 to 100,000 demonstrators, including some
who threw fruit and stones at Nixon's car. The total crowd was
police are expecting about 750,000 people on Jan. 20 when President-elect
Bush is sworn in, and they said they think many demonstrators
will be content to voice their displeasure peacefully.
group, like several others hoping to flood parts of the city on
Day, had been planning to be in Washington no matter who
won the election. But enough people think the outcome was illegitimate,
he said, that it has cranked up protest passion. Within hours
of the Dec. 12 U.S. Supreme Court decision blocking Vice President
Gore's effort to recount votes in Florida, Becker and other organizers
said, their Web sites were deluged with inquiries.
a tremendous amount of spontaneous organizing going on," said
rainbow of left-leaning groups had planned to rally on the Mall
outrage at a variety of demons, including racism, the death penalty
and the corporate influence on politics. But complaints that some
Florida votes were not counted, including those of many African
have given demonstrators powerful common issues.
the street protests against the World Bank in April, no civil
has been planned, organizers say. They said the demonstrations
will feature signs, chants, giant puppets, skits and a squad
of radical stilt walkers being trained in Philadelphia.
are not planning to shut down the inauguration," Becker said.
planning to make it plain that the inaugural route is not the
of those who support the death penalty, so we're going to be well-represented
on that parade route."
police aren't taking any chances with protesters' intentions,
to Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer. He said he expects
fewer than 5,000 unruly demonstrators might try to disrupt the
along with thousands of peaceful demonstrators.
addition to the D.C. force, thousands of suburban and federal
will participate in what officials described as an unprecedented
Justice Action Movement, an alliance of Washington area protesters,
yesterday sent D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey a letter requesting
a meeting to discuss plans for peaceful protests. Cmdr. Michael
Radzilowski, who is in charge of special operations, said yesterday
that he would be happy to meet with the protesters.
a dozen groups have requested permits, but none have been granted.
A National Park Service spokesman said the agency is waiting for
inauguration planners to make final arrangements before it allots
National Organization for Women plans to be there. "It's important
our own spirit to let people know there is a place to plug in,
anger and use it to fuel some additional activism," NOW President
Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Walter Fauntroy plan a "shadow inauguration"
outside the U.S. Supreme Court to swear in those pledging
to uphold the Voting Rights Act.
feel the act was violated by George Bush," Sharpton said.
pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Shaw, said he has witnessed
every swearing-in since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's fourth
in 1945, and "I know of no inauguration that has been the source
greater controversy than this . . . following a shameful election."
activists are planning a Voters March to call for election reform
the abolishment of the electoral college. "Our nation has been
by what has happened in this election," said Louis Posner, a
New York attorney leading the effort.
group, the D.C.-based New Black Panther Party, and its allies
to stage a Day of Outrage march, said spokesman Malik Shabazz.
local protest efforts are being coordinated by the Justice Action
a coalition of many who protested the World Bank. They have
been holding public meetings for several weeks at George Washington
University. They scheduled a news conference today to bring
together organizers of various protest efforts.
Monday, several dozen people attended a Justice Action Movement
Most were students or young members of progressive organizations
and unions, but several were old enough to have protested
Nixon's inauguration. Justice Action Movement has dubbed Jan.
20 the "InaugurAuction," a reference to members' belief that the
parties buy the White House with corporate funds.
of a corrupt political system, we now have a president who is
to be threatening the lives of many innocent people because of
support for the death penalty, military policies abroad and free
said Adam Eidinger, 27, a movement organizer.
the meeting, the group voted not to use violence, vandalism, weapons,
alcohol or drugs. They also decided to remain in small groups
scattered all over the Mall, employing creative visual effects
walkers to make their points.
the meeting, several organizers said they suspected a police infiltrator
was in their midst. A man with a goatee looked just like a plainclothes
officer who figured prominently in confrontations with World
Bank demonstrators, according to organizers who said they have
ending a brief telephone interview with The Washington Post, the
man denied he was an undercover officer. A police spokesman said
is no one on the force with the name the man used at the meeting.
Gainer confirmed that the police have infiltrated the protesters,
but he didn't identify anyone.
looking for excuses to shut us down," Eidinger said.
week, a few members of Justice Action Movement held a practice
in front of the White House, offering to auction the building
for $10 to carpenters building bleachers for the parade.
don't feel this particular election demonstrates ideally what
is for this country," said Elizabeth Croyden, 30, an actress and
film producer who participated. "It exposes a lot of flaws in
and I'm upset about it. If you don't get involved, how can you