Protesters raise voices outside of Bush rally

Some protestors were thrown out, but no one was arrested.


Cody Doran is escorted off the Gainesville Regional Airport grounds by law enforcement officials Sunday after a Bush supporter told police that they had seen him protesting on the corner of Waldo Road and 39th Avenue before the rally.

DAVID MASSEY/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, November 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 1, 2004 at 12:08 a.m.
Inside, President Bush and other Republican leaders were celebrating the efforts of hard-working campaigners with sign waving, country music and chants of "Four more years."
Outside, the protesters who had first gathered after the United States started bombing Iraq in April 2003 were having a reunion of their own.
Joe Richard greeted old friends wearing anti-Bush or pro-Kerry T-shirts as he tied a neon orange sign reading "We Support the Troops; Bring Them Home!" between two palm trees on Waldo Road. He said he made the sign more than a year ago, but hadn't used it for a while.
"Here's an old campaigner here in the green hat," said Richard as he waved hello. "And that guy holding the white sign? He's a veteran, too."
About 30 protesters gathered on Waldo Road near the airport to wave signs protesting the Bush administration's policies on the environment, the war in Iraq, abortion and a host of other issues.
Local Democratic party leaders said there would have been more protesters, but they decided their volunteers' time would be better spent on door-knocking campaigns the week before the election.
Those who did make street-corner protesting their priority Sunday said the effort was worth it.
"Anything that makes people stop and think, I'm for it," Richard said.
Their reception from Bush fans passing in pickup trucks, SUVs and the occasional sedan was less than warm.
"You look retarded," screamed one woman from a white truck.
"Oh, that's real nice," screamed a protester from the sidewalk. "You have a real kind heart."
Inside, the party faithful said the protesters would have done better on the door-knocking campaigns.
"They're just misinformed," said Ellen Davis, who came to the event from Williston with her husband and son.
A few protesters had gotten Republican friends to give them tickets to the private event, and they worked their way inside after covering their "No Blood For Oil" T-shirts with button-down shirts. Organizers said Bush supporters were the top priority for getting tickets.
Cody Doran and Tim McCourt, both UF law students who had protested before the event, said they were granted admission with tickets their friends gave them.
"I want to be here because I think I have a right to be here," said McCourt as throngs of Bush supporters broke into an impromptu "Four More Years" chant. "This just seems like a microcosm of our country, the way the administration wants to silence any voice of dissent."
But Elizabeth Hatcher, who recognized the two men from when she passed them on Waldo Road, said the Sunday event was hardly the place to voice that dissent.
"It makes me angry, the way they snuck in like that," said Hatcher, who said she alerted law enforcement to the protestors' presence inside. "They were just saying disgusting things when we passed them outside, and I know they're only here now to disrupt. This is a private party."
No one was arrested at the event, police said, but a few protestors were thrown out. Doran and McCourt were among them.
"I'm happy we didn't get arrested," McCourt when interviewed on his cell phone Sunday evening. "I'm not angry about the whole thing so much as I'm sad to see voices of dissent marginalized."

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