"I think there's going to be a lot of people disappointed they can't get anywhere close to Pennsylvania Avenue," says Francine Porter, active member of Code Pink, one of the groups preparing protests against President George W. Bush's Jan. 20 inauguration. Fellow Pittsburgh activist David Meieran says an "unprecedented military build-up in Washington, D.C.," not to mention a parade route lined with more bleachers requiring tickets than ever, will greet protesters.
Code Pink and members of the Anti-War Committee of Garfield's Thomas Merton Center have nonetheless scheduled a "Counter Inaugural Bus Trip" to Washington, D.C. Porter reports that most of its 45 seats are already full.
The marches, say Meieran, will include an "anti-authoritarian bloc" (you were expecting maybe a "monarchist bloc"?) and a "Save Our Civil Liberties" protest, featuring an "Abu Ghraib-style" hooded protest, he says. They will join national groups and marches organized by such groups as United for Peace and Justice, ANSWER and a new group created for the occasion, Turn Your Back on Bush.
Lisa Moyer, a junior sociology major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is coordinating the group's local recruiting. She believes she'll get up to 100 Western Pennsylvanians to blend in with the curbside crowd until it's time to face away from Bush's motorcade. "It's going to be distinct, because we won't even know each other, necessarily," she explains. "It's going to be very surprising, dramatic, hopefully."
In Pittsburgh, protesters may target the Federal Building at Grant and Liberty at midday, as they have done before, says Porter. The Steelers playoff game against the New York Jets featured a group of well-known local activists calling themselves Steelers Fans Against the War -- a move announced in a press release as remarkable for its football boosterism as it was for anti-war sentiment. They'll bring this spirit back to Heinz Field when the Steelers play the New England Patriots on Jan. 23.
Will the D.C. protests stop the motorcade with a barrage of eggs, as they did in January 2001?
"I don't think that's going to be possible this year," Porter says, citing the security. But, she concludes, "That's really one more reason to go."
Counter Inaugural Bus Trip to Washington, D.C., leaves the Pitt Student Union at 4:30 a.m., Thu., Jan. 20, and returns at 11 p.m. Call 412-361-3022. Turn Your Back on Bush: contact email@example.com.