Greensboro group marches in protest of President Bush

by Amy Kingsley

Protesters hoisted drums, placards and a Carolina blue flag Nov. 2 as they prepared to start a two-hour march from the UNCG fountain to downtown. A gust snapped the pennant taut as a hospital bed sheet; the drummers counted off and the 40 strong crowd started marching.

By the time the march reached the corner of Eugene Street and Friendly Avenue, about 75 marchers had joined the throng organized by a group called the World Can’t Wait, calling for President Bush’s removal from office. The racket generated by Cakalak Thunder drum corps grabbed the attention of those conducting their day-to-day business downtown. Passing cars honked their approval, and supporters drifted in and out during the lunch hour.

Before the marchers took a position outside the Old County Courthouse, the horde of people had wound through the UNCG campus ‘— complete with a detour through the McIver Building’s main hallway. Then they progressed through the Greensboro College campus, down Spring Street, hung a right on Friendly and wound around revitalized Elm Street.

‘“Basically we want to call people out,’” said organizer Tim Hopkins.

Participants pressed flyers into the hands of bystanders, some of whom joined the group. One of those was UNCG senior Crystal Chrisp, a finance, insurance and real estate major.

‘“There’s been 2,000 soldiers killed over in Iraq already,’” Chrisp said. ‘“And there’s more over there that want to come home. I don’t think that’s right.’”

Although most of the reaction to the protesters was positive, a couple people expressed dissatisfaction with the World Can’t Wait message. One man in a silver Chevrolet pickup tailed the group from the corner of Walker Avenue and Mendenhall Street to Spring Street, where the marchers took the sidewalk in the opposite direction of the one-way traffic flow. Soon after group organizers started speaking at the Courthouse, an older man hijacked the microphone and was led away by plainclothes police officers.

‘“We don’t need people like this insulting our leaders,’” said David Phelps. ‘“What we need is people praying for our leaders.’”

Among the topics that angered Phelps were protesters’ criticism of the president’s policies on stem cell research and the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Some of those marching also held aloft a coffin representing the city of New Orleans and other Hurricane Katrina victims. But the war in Iraq dominated the event rhetoric.

Organizers scheduled the Greensboro protest in coordination with 180 similar groups across the country, including several in North Carolina. A screening of anti-Bush films at 8 p.m. at the Scene on South Elm and a rock concert at Lyndon Street Artworks later that night rounded out Nov. 2 events in the city.

Organizers intended the protests to jumpstart a two-month escalation of anti-Bush activity to culminate at the January state of the union address. The World Can’t Wait was initiated by supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party, according to the campaign website, but includes participants of all political stripes. Endorsers include Alice Walker, Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, Kurt Vonnegut and Cindy Sheehan, among others.

‘“We know we’re not speaking to nobody,’” Hopkins said. ‘“Millions of people hate that guy.’”

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