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LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights : Elections & Legislation : International Relations : Peace & War : Protest Activity

Bush Visit to Richmond Greeted by Protesters

Bush's visit to the Virginia Science Museum in Richmond, VA was met by over 400 protesters who assembled along the south side of West Broad Street.
On October 19, 2006, President Bush made a visit to the Virginia Science Museum as part of a fundraising effort for Senator Allen’s bid to hold his seat in the upcoming November elections. The fundraiser consisted of a reception ($500/person) and photo opportunity with Bush and Allen ($5000/person). The Richmond contingent of the Virginia Antiwar Network (VAWN), planned a protest to coincide with this fundraising event to show dissatisfaction with Bush, his administration and those that support their policies.

VAWN was assured by the Richmond City Police that they would have a strong visual connection with the Science Museum that day, in spite of having to move the protest to the opposite side of Broad Street. Protesters who began to assemble around 3PM, however, were greeted with a long line of (vacant) James River Bus Line motor coaches positioned bumper to bumper along the entire block to physically and visually separate the street-side protest from the Science Museum. The new company slogan painted on the buses ("Not Just a Bus Company Anymore") had extra meaning that day. But, in spite of the attempted separation, there could be no squelching of the large and highly energized crowd that had gathered to protest the President's visit.

Numerous groups were represented, including The Virginia Antiwar Network, Hampton Roads Peace & Justice Coalition, Food Not Bombs, the Campus Antiwar Network, Richmond Defenders, Moth Squad, Richmond Greens, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out and others. Code Pink arranged a display of hundreds of shoes symbolizing the many innocent Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war. Each pair of shoes received a tag with the name and age of an Iraqi woman or child who has died since this Administration's initiation of its "preemptive" military campaign to bring about "Iraqi Enduring Freedom" to that country.

As is usually the case, there were wide ranging estimates in the media regarding the numbers of protesters that were in attendance. At around 4PM VAWN organizers counted just under 400 protesters who had gathered along the south side of Broad Street, most of whom held signs and chanted various slogans including … “Bring the Troops Home Now, Money for Jobs and Education, Not for Wars & Occupations?. This was just a snapshot of the event, however, as many of supporters came and went during the three and half hours in which the protest was conducted. VAWN organizer Sean O’Hern estimated that well over 500 people ultimately came out to protest Bush's visit to Richmond that day. And, as is often the case in downtown Richmond, there was a considerable show of approving honks in support from cars traveling along West Broad Street.

Bush made his debut through the front door of the Science Museum at 5:02PM, his motorcade passing within 100 feet of protesters assembled at the corner of West Broad and Davis Streets. The ensuing roar from the crowd was unmistakable in its depth of feeling and emotion as people vented their frustration, anger and sorrow at what this man and his followers have done to damage the very soul of this Nation and our relationship with the rest of the World. The same emotion was replayed at around 6:15PM when Bush and his motorcade departed the Science Museum in the same direction from which they had come.

About a dozen paramilitary types with the Virginia State Police moved in immediately after Bush’s arrival. They first appeared to scan the roof tops of the buildings immediately opposite the museum and, then, ultimately took up positions in front of the buses along the north side of Broad Street.

The protest event received considerable attention from the media. Press and film crews on the south side of Broad Street included the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Associated Press, National Public Radio, WRIR, TV Stations WTVR (Channel 6) and WRIC (Channel 8), Southern ((i)), Richmond Indymedia, the Richmond Defender, Commonwealth Times (VCU) and, likely, numerous others. News of the event was subsequently picked up and broadcast on numerous blogs/discussions lists. Follow the link below for additional images of the protest event

Garrie Rouse



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