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L.A. WELCOMES BUSH JR.

by ANNA KUNKIN Wednesday, May. 30, 2001 at 6:06 PM
annekunkin@earthlink.net

Several hundred protesters gathered today in front of the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to protest President Bush and his energy policy.

errorSeveral hundred protesters gathered today in front of the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to protest President Bush and his energy policy.

Bush, sandwiching L.A. between stops at Camp Pendleton this morning and Sequoia National Park this evening. where he plans to make a statement about his commitment to the environment standing in front of a thousand year old redwood tree, was in the city to speak to the World Affairs Council, a group of L.A. aristocrats including on it's board of directors such luminaries as Timothy Hanneman, the executive V.P and General Manager of TRW, Stephen Bollenback, President and General Manager of the Hilton Hotels Corp., Mrs. Howard Ahmanson, Warren Christopher, and Michael Eisner of Disney fame. At a Society Luncheon, Bush informed the relatively speaking well- heeled society crowd that he has no plans to use federal intervention to help California with its current energy crisis. He went on to say that he thinks re-regulation of the cost of utilities would only cause more blackouts and further hardships. (For Whom? The richest of the rich?)

While the privileged set munched down on luncheon delicacies prepared by the stellar hotel chefs, a lively crowd of between 4 and 5 hundred gathered in the warm California sun as part of the renewed and developing hardcore L.A. protest community. While most were enthusiastic and felt encouraged that so many would show up on very short notice on a Tuesday after a three-day holiday weekend, one man, remembering the thousands massacred by the police at an anti-Johnson/Vietnam war protest at the same location in 1967, felt that it was an anemic showing. "Yeah," responded a 23-year-old local anarchist, "and how many years of killing did it take to get those thousands out there? This is just the beginning."

The police, acting mainly as traffic and crowd control, were peaceful and non-confrontative as long as the crowd stayed across the street from the hotel and maintained the distance designated by the Secret Service. When asked why, Officer Ludwig of the L.A.P.D. would only say, "It's a safety Issue." It didn't take long however, for a group of protesters to notice that anyone who didn't look like a protestor, i.e., people in office attire not brandishing posters or banners, were walking unchallenged anywhere they liked; including right up to the hotel door. Upon making this observation, they decided to challenge the distance edict and crossed the street; whereupon they were immediately confronted by members of the L.A.P.D., who gently but firmly informed them that they would have to be good children and stay in their assigned space. The protestors, not liking the condescending tone, dug their feet in and declared their right to go wherever they liked. An official standoff was in the making. Even this though, had a slightly light- hearted-sunny-day-in-California feel, as if everyone was only going through some kind of pre-ordained motions, and actually took a humorous tone when Sergeant Hancock, commanding officer, demanded to speak to the "person in charge." Giggling and calls of "take me your leader" ensued, and the good sergeant looked confused and befuddled when he was informed that this was a crowd of non-hierarchal leaderless protesters. Still, a standoff is a standoff, and soon legal observers, including Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild, stepped in to inform the police that the protestors indeed had the right to walk wherever they liked on the public sidewalk; and that the police, even under the direction of the Secret Service had no right to prevent it. The police response to this was to immediately serve Lafferty with a citation for stepping off the curb, turning him into an instant martyr for the cause. Jim, good naturedly enough, immediately lost the ticket and continued to hold his ground. After further negotiations and general back-and-forthing with the Secret Service, Lafferty finally took the matter into his own hands, and when a group of high-level visiting dignitaries stepped off a line of busses and were ushered down the street towards the hotel, he waved a bunch of sign-wielding people over and told them that this was their chance to go for it.

This was it; a wonderful ragtag wave of drumming, chanting protestors of all ages, arrived to take over the sidewalk, and faced off with the confused and shocked dignitaries queued up in front of the hotel in their expensive cocktail dresses and thousand dollar power suits. This while President Bush spent his allotted 20 minutes with our very own Grey Davis, informing our dear governor that the federal government is not going to bail him out of this one.

Bush, terribly behind schedule, finally snuck out a back alley on his way to a date with an ancient tree.
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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Ooh it's hot Gail Thursday, May. 31, 2001 at 6:48 AM
Ooh it's hot Gail Thursday, May. 31, 2001 at 6:49 AM
From local corprate media... Slacker65 Thursday, May. 31, 2001 at 8:25 AM
Response to Shrub's visit and protest actions peter Stedman Friday, Jun. 08, 2001 at 6:12 AM

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