July 2004 News
Peaceful protests greet Bush in Marquette
By Mark Pavolich
MARQUETTE -- Supreme Court appointee George W. Bush made a campaign visit to upper Michigan Tuesday, July 13. The sopping wet weather -- thunderstorm, rain, heat and humidity -- did not detour Bush dissenters from showing up at the Superior Dome, on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
This stopover on Bush's Michigan tour drew representatives from labor unions, environmental groups, labor organizations, peace groups and more.
The protesters enthusiastically but peacefully displayed their distaste for the president, his administration and its policies. A conservative estimate by security personnel set the number of protesters at approximately 1500.
Citizens in attendance displayed signs, banners, buttons, shirts and stickers to demonstrate their support of John Kerry-John Edwards and to make known their opposition to the Bush administration's handling of the high unemployment rate, the environment, woman's rights, war in Iraq and many other issues.
Inspired by a popular local Upper Peninsula bumper sticker, one sign sent a message in native dialect, "Say ya to da UN eh!" while others had a more personal quality.
|Chelsea Pavolich, 11, of Keweenaw County, contributed
this cartoon representation of the protesters in Marquette.
(Drawing © 2004 Chelsea Pavolich. Reprinted with permission.)
A personal sign carried by Melanie Jones of Scott AFB, Ill., read, "My husband is in Iraq, Kerry Edwards 2004." Her husband, a 22-year Air Force veteran, is now on tour in Iraq, Jones confirmed.
"I'm glad Saddam is gone," Jones said, "but when we started to find out the truth about the weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence failures, I said 'What's going on?' and now, the reconstruction is all screwed up! We alienated other countries. No disrespect of the president, but he should have followed advice. Maybe Kerry can get more involvement; maybe a change will do a better job."
Carol Henry of Marquette stated, "I am against Iraq (the war), the lies. I'm not a protester, but today I had to express my views because of Bush's visit. We support the troops because we don't want them being wasted."
Teri Grout of Chatham, a card-carrying Democrat and Sierra Club member, wanted to send a message: "I am here to let them know we don't agree on many of the policies and things done. This is a battleground state, and half of us are not going to lay down and accept it."
James Codere from Lake Linden, an Ironworker with Local #8, said he and fellow members were here in support of John Kerry.
"Because of the lost jobs, healthcare issues, free trade policies, we came to support Kerry," Codere explained. "We hope he can bring back the jobs."
Nathan Nakkula of Mohawk -- an Organizer, member of Local Union 1329 and member of the Michigan Laborers' District Council -- was also in attendance to voice workers' opposition.
"Healthcare has tripled in cost," Nakkula noted. "He (Bush) took away the Soo Locks job -- costing over 800 jobs and the over $300 million already allocated for the project. They change laws and discriminate against the union laborers; plus there is the taking away of overtime pay. We are fighting for the freedom to have unions."
As the final ticket-holding rally attendees entered the Dome, protesters reciting, "No more war ...," walked slowly and peaceably toward the Dome from the designated free speech zone. The protesters were met by a line of Michigan State Emergency Response Team officers and uniformed Secret Service personnel, who were assisting with security on the lane in front of the main doors.
Brought to a standstill, the demonstrators calmly continued their protest at the line designated by the officers. While any dissent-related material or dissenting persons were designated to a free speech zone that kept them safely away from the Dome and its entrances, the policy seemed not to apply to those free speechers who carried signs in support of the administration. They were free to travel the grounds. Americans wearing clothing found objectionable were denied admittance to the event even though they were in possession of the required ticket.
As they left the Superior Dome after Bush's speech, audience members were overheard expressing their repulsion at the sight of the protesters: "They are the scum of the earth"... "lucky it is raining, at least they are getting a bath this week" ... "those are people with no morality at all," etc. However, some rally attendees were willing to be interviewed about the experience as they exited.
Scott (no last name given) of Marquette admitted, "I'm a Democrat. I went to see a sitting president with my daughter, and we had fun. I don't agree with the war!"
Upon leaving the Dome, Tina Light of Marquette exclaimed, "It was exciting! I'm proud to be an American today!"
Said Barbie Heath of Skandia, "It was really hot inside and I was far away. It was the most wonderful feeling. I am proud to have the President in upper Michigan."
When asked what he had heard during the speech, Randy O'Donnell of Marquette said, "Same as expected. It is a neat deal to have the President in the UP."
Other comments on the speech came from Ken Pekalek of Saggola: "Very good, awesome." Asked if he heard anything new, Pekalek said, "Same thing. I'm for a strong country."
Joe Defarncisco of Marquette said of the experience, "Very good. I was far
away but it was awesome, whether you're a Democrat or Republican."
In answer to "Anything new?" Bob (no last name given) of Marquette said, "Something you people would like -- federal funding for energy research, try to end the dependence on oil, and exploring of renewable resources."
Others from the audience expressed strong support for Bush.
Randy Joki of Champion noted, "It is very special to have President Bush visit Marquette. We are safer with Bush. He saved lives getting rid of Saddam H. It is a safer world."
When asked what this visit meant to him, Mike Sanville from Cornell, Mich., said, "This was excellent, historic. President Bush exhibits such good moral values."
Remarking on what he had heard inside the Dome, John Blank of Ishpeming said, "The speech hit every nail on the head. We need to take care of the war on terror on their soil, not here. Great experience."
Ken Kristo of L'Anse summed up the speech as "nothing really new" and
added, "It was great, wonderful. Glad we came."
David Oglesby of Negaunee called the rally an "excellent" experience.
"A sitting president in Marquette -- it has to be the same whether you are on the left or the right. I'm Republican, and we still went to see Hillary Clinton years ago," Oglesby noted. "I don't want to see Bush pass off what he is doing to anyone else. I want him to finish the job and reply to these allegations made by Michael Moore and Kerry."
Gaining a lot of attention, posing for and with the exiting rally attendees were Shannon Kemp and her sons -- Robert, Ryan, William and Anthony. The young toddlers were dressed in military uniforms (two Army, one each of Marine and Navy). Ms. Kemp said they were in attendance to show support for President Bush. Her husband, Rob, is Pastor of the Old Faith Baptist Church of Ishpeming.
Another mother, Lynn Fuller of Marquette, said, "I'm here as a mother, nurse, social worker. I have concerns for the loss of policies concerning the environment, and how the truth is manipulated by this administration and the media. I came here to show the pro-Bush people that the anti-war and other protesters are people the same as they are. I'm tired of all the manipulation."
The occasion took place without incident as no arrests were reported, but one unidentified female was observed being removed from the Dome on a stretcher by one of the ambulance crews on site.
|Editor's Note: Read more about the author of
this article, Mark
Pavolich, and about his daughter Chelsea, the
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