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Inaugural Protests Biggest since Vietnam
Man holding sign that reads, U.S. Supreme COURupTion

Video 1: Inagurual Protest at the Supreme Court

Video 2: Inagural Protest with Right to Life group

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by Stew Harris

Washington D.C. 20 Jan. 2001 - The presidential limousine sped down Pennsylvania Avenue between a phalanx of riot police four rows deep as demonstrators lobbed their messages and at least one egg in the direction of newly inaugurated president George W. Bush.

African American groups stirred by civil rights rhetoric encircled the Supreme Court in what they called a "shadow inauguration" while other groups, many mobilized during anti-globalization rallies last year, squeezed through police checkpoints to wave signs along the inaugural parade route.

Girding for massive unrest, a makeshift police force drew officers from as far away as Pennsylvania but only arrested five people out of an estimated 350,000 who viewed the parade January 20.

Seventeen-year-old Danielle White of California was one of those waving signs along the route. She and about 50 high school and college students gathered in steady rain to press their anti-abortion case with the crowd and the new commander in chief.

"Personally, I want President Bush to see our message," White said. As the limousine passed, she waived her placard over the heads of the police. "Okay, he saw it," she said, turning away from Pennsylvania Avenue in search of a hot cup of cocoa.

Earlier in the day, Rev. Al Sharpton was on a makeshift stage in Stanton Park on Capital Hill addressing a crowd of about 5000, including many civil rights veterans who had bussed in from as far away as Ohio, Michigan and Georgia. Local Green Party activists mixed in with the muddy audience.

"George Bush was not elected, he was selected by the Supreme Court of the United States," Sharpton's voice boomed across the park.

His sentiments were echoed in signboard messages "Hail to the Thief," "Democracy Sabotaged" and "U.S. Supreme COURupTion."

The references were to the 5-4 Supreme Court decision which cleared the way for Bush's win.

One of the only reported incidents of violence during the day came from K and 14th streets when more than 2000 demonstrators who had gathered at Dupont Circle tried to march to the parade route. Police halted the group's progress at K Street, where one demonstrator was handcuffed and arrested as blood streamed down his face. Protestors said he was hit by police.

The New Black Panther Party mustered 100 supporters, who marched from the Shaw neighborhood to the parade route, some wearing shin guards and helmets with protective visors. "We are not among friends," organizer Malik, Zulu Shabazz told The Washington Post.

At Freedom Plaza, demonstrators seized bleachers seats which had been sold by the Inaugural Committee to Bush supports for $50 apiece. The seats were being guarded by Girl Scout volunteers, who looked on in terror as hundreds of demonstrators brushed past them and refused to step down.

© 2003 Camera One
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