Protesters blast Bush, Iraq war

Hundreds of demonstrators packed Washington Square Park on Wednesday evening to let President George W. Bush know that not all Utahns are behind the war in Iraq or his administration.

“Let us all, without regard to political partisanship, join together in restoring our democracy, restoring the role of law and restoring our nation’s moral standing on history’s high road,” said former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson as the sun set over a crowd of people ranging from mohawk-sporting punks to stroller-bearing soccer moms. “Let us never be silenced.”

This declaration sent the crowd into applause and brought the Peace and Human Rights Rally to a close.

The event coincided with Bush’s visit to Salt Lake City. Bush hosted two fundraising events for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign alongside Mitt Romney — the first a $30,800-per-plate dinner at Romney’s Deer Valley home. The second, more affordable event was held at the home of Sam Stewart, a local investment-fund manager, in Salt Lake City’s Avenues neighborhood. Bush has traditionally received strong support in Utah.

David Hansen, a Spanish major at the U and member of Salt Lake’s chapter of the Brown Berets, stood with his group members as they chanted outside the Salt Lake City and County Building.

“Bush is raping our nation,” Hansen said.

The Brown Berets is Chicano/a activist group that opposes racial discrimination, lack of political representation for minorities, inadequate public education and the wars from Vietnam to Iraq.

Wednesday’s rally featured speeches from Anderson; Marshall Thompson, a local soldier-turned-peace-activist; Kathy Snyder, a Cache Valley mother who lost her son in Iraq; and Daniel Ellsburg, the now-legendary whistle-blower who released the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War.

“The kind of republic that our framers had in mind doesn’t exist at this moment,” Ellsburg said. “But the question is, can we get it back? And what do we have to do?”

Hansen and Salt Lake City’s Brown Berets are certain we can.

“Students must be proactive,” Hansen said. “Education is the key to solving this problem. We have to take a look at our history and come to terms with what has to be done.”

The Berets are currently working alongside Hands Off Latin America, Utah Workers International and other local groups on the Caravan to Cuba campaign — a collection drive that aims to provide Cuba with medicine and other supplies that have come under shortage due to the U.S. embargo.

As the masses dispersed, Anderson was still swarmed by supporters shaking hands and taking pictures.

“Young people have always been at the forefront of major social movements in this country,” he said. “They’re the ones who have led.”

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Tyler Cobb

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Salt Lake City and County Building on Wednesday to protest against President George W. Bush.

Tyler Cobb

Nate Barney, a sophomore in economics, and Michael Corbin, a junior in nursing, protested against George W. Bush at rally outside of the Salt Lake City and County Building on Wednesday.