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Bush inauguration provokes cheers and jeers

WASHINGTON—Jeers competed with cheers and militants mixed uneasily with mink coats as thousands of demonstrators lined the inaugural parade route Thursday to voice their opposition to President Bush.

The mostly peaceful protesters staged a variety of events, from a "die-in" by 17 people near the White House to satirical thrusts at Bush's policies by Billionaires for Bush. One group, Turn your Back on Bush, did just that with a silent gesture as the president passed by.

A small group of apparent anarchists threw sticks, oranges and other objects at police two blocks from the parade route, and one man was arrested for assault. Police, using pepper spray, waded into the group at Seventh and D streets.

Sharpshooters lined the roofs of the Labor Department and other buildings, police on horseback and others with bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled the parade route, and soldiers screened the public at dozens of checkpoints.

Anti-Bush organizers worried that the unprecedented security for the inauguration, with 100 blocks of downtown locked down and security checkpoints everywhere, would stifle dissent. But they found different ways to make their presence known.

At the parade's start, at Third Street and Constitution Avenue, hundreds of sign-wielding protesters chanted "shame, shame," and "four more wars," as Bush's motorcade passed, easily drowning out supporters. One man played "Taps" on his trumpet while two young men unveiled a large cardboard coffin draped in an American flag.

Alyse Aratoon, 37, of Los Angeles, said she "just had to make" the cross-country journey to protest the Iraq war and other Bush policies.

"I wanted to let everyone know that many people oppose his hypocritical policies," she said as she shivered in the freezing street and held up a sign that said "Anti-Abortion but Pro-War?"

At one entry point to the parade route, protesters camped out and jeered at the dozens of Bush supporters.

"Sell your minks to pay for the war," protesters chanted. One older fur-wearing woman turned back as she passed and said: "You're jealous."

Signs ranged from the humorous to the angry: "1,369 US Dead in Iraq—Party On, George," "What Would Jesus Bomb?," "Inaugurate, Then Impeach," "Nope, No WMDs Here" and "Real Eyes Realize Real Lies."

One block away, several hundred protesters who had obtained a permit for their own bleachers chanted "no peace, no justice" as Bush's motorcade sped by.

And three blocks from the White House, near the end of the parade, several protesters burned a flag and rushed a security gate, which angered Bush supporter Kelly Martin of McLean, Va.

"That was anti-American," Martin said.

People who had no strong political views but just wanted to see history had a difficult time getting close to the parade.

"Security is really intense, and there are more protesters than I expected," said Mary Kate Moore, 16, a member of a school group from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "I understand the right to protest, but I think of an inauguration as a celebration for the whole country."

Bush supporters dominated many blocks along the parade route because they'd purchased tickets for bleacher seats. Others stood uneasily in their long overcoats near groups of demonstrators.

Emily Hanson of Nashville, Tenn., shook her head at a group of demonstrators: "Don't they know the election is over? Hey, they lost."

Protesters tried different tactics. Angry sign-wavers stood near the Turn Your Back demonstrators who silently turned away as the president's limousine went by.

"We all turned our backs at once and it was pretty moving. I just hope people saw us," said Jeffrey Evangelos, 52, of Friendship, Maine.

At times, protesters who lacked numbers made up for it with a good location.

On the grounds of the Capitol, as Bush neared the end of his inaugural speech, a handful of protesters stood up. One, a large man in a brown overcoat and a booming baritone, began to loudly boo.

The man's voice was clearly audible to Bush and the lawmakers around him. Soon the crowd began to chant "U-S-A, U-S-A." Police officers moved in on the demonstrator, pinned his arms behind him and escorted him away.

The booing and the crowd's protective reaction seemed to unsettle Bush, but he ended the speech without a flaw amid growing applause. A Capitol Police spokesman said five arrests were made.

Perhaps the most creative anti-Bush event was the Billionaires for Bush "auction" of Social Security and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Dressed as top-hatted and fur-coated caricatures of the ultra-wealthy, about 50 Bush foes engaged in some well-scripted street theater at the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial Thursday morning.

The Arctic refuge went to a "Halliburton" representative for $61 million, who said, "That's what we overcharged the Pentagon on fuel contracts in Iraq."

"We laugh through our tears," said Glenn Marcus, a Washington documentary filmmaker who played a fictitious billionaire named R. Owen Laws. "It eases the pain."


(Knight Ridder correspondents Seth Borenstein, James Kuhnhenn, Lauren Markoe and news researcher Tish Wells contributed to this report.)


(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTOS (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): INAUGURATION

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