Thousands protest Bush

Approximately 2,000 demonstrators filled the streets of downtown Portland yesterday protesting the inauguration of President George W. Bush.

Demonstrators sporting signs and creative political costumes made slowed rush hour traffic, but expressed their distaste for the Bush administration with few arrests or disruptions.

Bush, who was the victor of one of the most divisive elections in U.S. history in November, officially began his second term in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The "anti-inauguration" protest is the most recent in a string of protests in Portland opposing the policies of President Bush. The largest took place after the president launched the war on Iraq in March 2003 when an estimated 30,000 attended.

Other protests of the inauguration occurred in cities around the country, including Seattle, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

At Portland State, an "Anti-Inauguration Carnival" took place from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. outside the Smith Building. Students for Unity, Progressive Student Union and College Democrats hosted the event. The day included a "Make Your Own Protest Sign" booth, food, games and a row of bike police ready at the wheel.

"We will celebrate those differences that unify the opposition to the Bush administration," a Students for Unity representative said.

PSU student Kyla Broderick came to protest and dance while rapidly spinning ribbons, a practice known as "poi." She normally does it with fire.

"I’m glad students can come together peacefully over one cause," Broderick said while on a break from poi.

After the carnival, the group of PSU students walked to join the larger group of Portlanders, coming from marches beginning at the Oregon Convention Center and East Burnside Street at around 3:30 p.m.

At 4 p.m., the crowd of about 2,000 curved through the streets of downtown Portland with homemade signs, marching bands, and elaborate costumes. Some protesters’ heads were adorned with foil hats.

The bulk of protesters gathered at Terry Schrunk Plaza across from City Hall with local activist groups including Students for Unity, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Code Pink, a women’s peace activism group, who were co-sponsored by local listener-supported radio station KBOO.

The foil hats, fashioned by Code Pink, were more than just a bad fashion statement.

"We [in the U.S.] are mind controlled and we’re going to start waking up," said Luz Maria Germain, member of the local chapter of Code Pink. "That’s why we’re wearing tin foil hats. We’re standing up, telling the truth, that we’re not afraid to unite and speak our minds."

Code Pink plans to ship the foil to the White House to be passed on to the troops in Iraq who need body armor.

The Portland Police Bureau geared up for the march through the streets of downtown.

Police expected three permitted marches but also planned for non-permitted and impromptu events to occur.

"Members of the Portland Police Bureau have met with a number of organizers in an effort to ensure good communication and coordination," Chief Derrick Foxworth said. "We will also be prepared to respond to … incidents to ensure the safety, security, and rights of all citizens."

Both members of the Democratic and Republican parties came to the day of Inauguration events. Despite some shouting and expected debating, both sides managed to remain moderately peaceful and nonviolent, though some participants expressed the divisiveness that has characterized U.S. politics since the election.

"I think we should split the nation in half," PSU student Kipp Kruger said. "I’m having a hard time with politics lately. I’m trying to see the other side and listen to what they have to say but I don’t understand how they can justify war."