Bush was in
As promised there was another
voice in Phila. today
as the world's chief war-maker spoke before the Phila.
World Affairs Council at the Park Hyatt Phila.
THANK YOU to everyone that gave voice to the demonstration of our opposition. THANK YOU to all the groups which made it a success:
Strike, Payday, Avenging the Ancestors Coalition, Uhuru, International Concerned
Families & Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal, African
American Freedom & Reconstruction League, Women's International League for
Peace & Freedom, Coalition for Peace Action (
Bob Smith, Staffperson,
Protesters to confront Bush on war, homefront
tour to defend action in
PHILADELPHIA President Bush will be met by streets filled with protesters today when he speaks to the World Affairs Council at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the
Bellevue Hotel on Broad and Walnut streets.
The president will be in town for the third in a tour of speeches where he has
called for staying the course in the war in
improvements to the war-torn country’s economy. At least 35 groups will gather today to protest Bush’s visit and his foreign and domestic policies. “We’re there to protest the war
president’s plans in
As of yesterday afternoon, police had not designated areas for the protesters to gather. Smith said he plans to protest in the streets at Broad and Walnut. Traffic is
expected to be tied up around the hotel for much of the morning and into the afternoon. The World Affairs Council event is sold out. Doors will open for those with tickets at and no one will be allowed in after , according to the World Affairs Council.
Among those planning to protest, according to Smith, are the founders of the National Military Families Speak Out organization and Celeste Zappala, whose son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since 1945.
War debate hits city
more than three
hours across from the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the
The protest remained mostly calm, but police reported two arrests and planned to charge one man with assaulting an officer. Police did not release the names of
the two people arrested, but said only one was being charged. Although there were a few Bush supporters on the street, most of those gathered were against the
president and his
policies. “It’s impossible to win. No insurgency has ever been defeated,” said
Timmy Patsch, 39, of
Jennifer Murphy, 28, of the political action group Philly for
Change, said that the
party there the
opportunity to establish peace,” Murphy said, calling on the president to
establish a timeline to remove
Bush says 30,000 Iraqis killed in war
PHILADELPHIA In a rare, unscripted moment, President Bush yesterday estimated that 30,000 Iraqis have died in the war, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the
high price Iraqis have paid in the push for democracy. In the midst of a campaign to win support for the unpopular war, Bush unexpectedly invited questions from the World Affairs
about the number
of Iraqis who have lost their lives since the beginning of the war. “I would say 30,000, more or less, have died
as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis,”
Bush said. “We’ve lost about 2,140 of our own troops in
2 arrested in Phila. protest
arrested two antiwar protesters - who some witnesses alleged were assaulted
by officers - as almost 1,000 demonstrators and onlookers assembled yesterday
Police said they would charge one of the men with assaulting an officer.
Bush's motorcade arrived
at the Park Hyatt at the
By the time he departed at , the crowd had swelled with curious bystanders and a small contingent of Bush supporters. As Bush drove away, someone threw a snowball at the motorcade, but it splattered harmlessly on the street.
Meanwhile, a scuffle broke out between police and two brothers who were protesting. One brother was charged with assaulting an officer, and the other went to a hospital to be treated for the possible aggravation of recent hernia surgery, his mother said.
Aisha K. El Mekki, 58, said a man who turned out to be a plainclothes officer jumped on her 15-year-old grandson, who was carrying a clear glass of yellow liquid.
The liquid was lemonade.
When El Mekki's son, Sharif, 34, the boy's father, demanded to know what was going on, the plainclothes officer accosted him, witnesses said. Sharif's brother, Mikyeil, 32, also joined the altercation, which occurred outside the Italian Bistro restaurant.
Sharif El Mekki was to be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, said Inspector William Colarulo, a Police Department spokesman.
Mikyeil El Mekki
was taken to
Colarulo said Mikyeil would not be charged.
Capt. William Fisher, who was in charge of crowd control, said a plainclothes officer not assigned to his unit did get into a "physical confrontation." He said he did not know who the officer was.
Fisher said the two men, whom he helped lead into a police wagon, "didn't look like they were traumatized."
As the antiwar demonstration grew while Bush spoke inside the hotel, Fisher described the gathering as "an orderly but angry crowd" that peaked at 1,000 people.
While some younger protesters shouted profanities, Marvin Thall, 79, quietly held a sign declaring that "Murtha is Right - Bush is Wrong," referring to the Pennsylvania congressman who has called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
Thall, who served a year in
While some activists
oppose any hostility, Thall said the
"I'm not saying 100 percent withdrawal tomorrow. I'm saying as soon as possible," Thall said.
Jim Moyer, 22, watched the demonstration from a different, personal perspective.
Moyer, a Marine lance
"I respect their right to freedom of speech," he said of the protesters. "I just don't agree with them."
Moyer said he supported
the President and the goal of the war, which he said was "to establish a
secure and democratic nation in the country of
He added, "I support my commander in chief no matter what."
The war is also personal
for Celeste Zappala, 58, of
She sharply criticized the President.
"I'm a witness to what the real cost of war is," she said. "This is my son's life. It's lost to this man's deception, to his lies and his morality."
Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or email@example.com.
Protesters warmed by change in the air
IT WAS COLD as hell outside yesterday, but Riot Grrrl knew that Bush couldn't roll into town without inciting a lot of yelling and a few raised middle fingers.
This is the City of
So while Bush spoke to the
elite inside the
Wrapped in their fuzzy hats and down jackets, the anti-war, anti-Bush crowd kept going all morning, until Riot Grrrl's toes were frozen.
Among the crowds was Mike
Hoffman, 25, of
"I saw what we did that caused the problem," he said. "I saw cities destroyed by what we did."
But like a lot of people out yesterday, Hoffman said he feels a change in the air.
"People are starting to feel like something's changing," he said. "Politicians are saying we need to bring them home."
That feeling clearly kept the masses warm yesterday during the several hours outside the hotel. At one point they started gleefully roaring, "Send in the Twins. Send in the Twins."
"I think we're
getting close to a tipping point," said Amy Roesler,
Roesler's son is on his third tour in
"He's angry. He doesn't believe in this war. He thinks we're doing more harm than good," she said.
Naturally, Bush came and left in his fancy motorcade without acknowledging the angry crowds. But he might want to watch out - a new candidate may have already been drafted to replace him.
One protester yesterday was carrying a "Kanye West for President" T-shirt through the crowd.
He does write a catchy tune...
Some experts say
president needs to do better in explaining
By STEPHANIE K. WHALEN , firstname.lastname@example.org
When President Bush
arrived in the birthplace of American independence Monday, it wasn’t your
average, $10,000 World Affairs luncheon, say political academics. Three days
speeches in Philly, along with those in several other cities over the past
few days, are designed to try to convince people to support his decision to
continue efforts in
"Public support is the
basic premise of leadership. Without that support, his power weakens and his
policies don’t seem viable."
Protesters turn out for Bush
was like a war protest of old on
A man was singing a wobbly rendition of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" and a recording of Joan Baez's "Amazing Grace" followed.
Scores of protesters chanted U.S. Out of Iraq and Bush Lies, People Die.
Hand scrawled placards blamed Bush and capitalism, celebrated unions, and declared solidarity with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an soldier killed in the line of duty who has become the face of the anti-war movement.
About , across the street from the hotel, there
was a disturbance. A
Bush hails progress in Iraq
By MATT KATZ
President Bush invoked the democratic symbolism of
"I can think of no better place to discuss the issue of a free
The hourlong speech, to about 500 people at a luncheon of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, was the third in a series of Bush policy addresses this month intended to stem increasing American dissatisfaction with the war.
For the first time, the president also publicly acknowledged that Iraqis themselves have paid a high price in the push for democracy.
"I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial
incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis," Bush said in response
to a question from a member of the audience. "We've lost about 2,140 of
our own troops in
While acknowledging that American military and political planners have had
to "adjust" certain plans since the 2003 invasion, the president said
Thursday's election in
A group of about 100 anti-Bush protesters lined
"I'm sure that there are people over there who
are appreciative of what's going on, but the reasons why we're over there are
still unclear to us," said Nicole Sparks, 28, of
When told Bush mentioned the Sept. 11 attacks three times in Monday's
Bush has been criticized recently for isolating himself from critics -- the cover of Newsweek this week pictures him inside a bubble -- but on Monday Bush took rare questions from the audience.
Bush was also asked why he repeatedly invoked the Sept. 11 attacks in justifying his reasoning for going to war -- even though a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida terrorists has never been proved.
"9/11 changed my look on foreign policy," he said. "It said that oceans no longer protect us, we can't take threats for granted. If we see a threat, we have to deal with it."
He compared the difficult fight for Iraqi democracy with the bloody days during America's founding, saying there were eight years of "disorder and upheaval" between the end of the Revolutionary War and the election of a constitutional American government.
He said Congress was chased out of
"It is important to keep this history in mind as we look at the
progress of freedom and democracy in
But Rutgers-Camden history Professor Jeffery Dorwart, who listened to the speech on the radio, had a different historical interpretation than the president's.
"It's kind of a flawed comparison," he said, noting that
"The comparison is just simply way, way oversimplified by whoever wrote that speech," he said.
Still, he said, both struggles had its "loyalists" to the old
regime who represented an enemy within. "I understand what the Bush
administration is trying to do, but don't use
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a former Marine drill instructor who has emerged as
one of the most vocal proponents of immediate withdrawal from
"Iraqis are not against democracy, they're against our occupation," said Murtha, adding that he made a "mistake" voting for the war in the first place.
"If the French stayed here (after the American Revolution), we would have thrown them the hell out," he said.
Still, Bush described "steady progress" in
"This week's election won't be perfect, and a successful vote is not the end of the process," he said. "These enemies are no going to give up because of a successful election."
Reach Matt Katz at (856) 486-2456 or email@example.com
Published: December 13. 2005
Subject: Police actions December 12, 2005
Date: December 20, 2005
To whom it may concern:
As conveners of the December 12 protest against President George W. Bush
and the war against Iraq, we wish to express our concern over the
actions of the Philadelphia police in the unprovoked assault into the
protest crowd and the unjustified arrests that followed of Sharif
El-Mekki and his brother, Mikyeil El-Mekki, both participants in the
While the charges against Sharif El-Mekki were dismissed at a
preliminary court hearing on December 15 and Mikyeil El-Mekki was not
charged, we feel that an investigation of the police conduct in this
incident is warranted along with a public apology to the El-Mekki
>From all accounts we have received, a plainclothes police officer named
Samer Musallam entered the demonstration and without identifying himself
as a police officer confronted Mr. El-Mekkis 15-year-old son and
demanded he show identification. At the same time, a uniformed woman
officer whispered in the childs ear that he needed to come with her.
According to news reports the youth was confronted because he was
carrying a container of lemonade, apparently considered a threat by the
police. Considering that many people participating in the protest or
just walking down the street were carrying drink containers, we suspect
racial profiling was a motivating factor.
As any parent would, Mr. El-Mekki stepped in to find out what was going
on. An altercation broke out when Mr. El-Mekki was shoved and later
punched by the non-uniformed officer who still had not identified
himself. Protesters reported later that they only realized the man was
a police officer when they saw he was wearing a gun.
The actions of a plain-clothed
very dangerous situation where other demonstrators, including a young
child sitting on an adults shoulders, were put at risk once baton
swinging officers lurched over the police barricades within seconds,
shoving protesters against the windows of a nearby restaurant and
pushing Mr. El-Mekki to the ground. Mr. El-Mekki sustained injuries
when his hands were stepped on, and he was rammed in the back repeatedly
by a police baton.
To some, this was an unprovoked attack on members of an otherwise
peaceful protest of a thousand people exercising their Constitutional
rights. We are especially concerned that Captain William Fisher and the
Civil Affairs unit were apparently not informed of the presence of
plain-clothed police officers within the congested demonstration.
The purpose of the Civil Affairs unit, according to the units website,
is securing any demonstrators right to communicate their grievance,
complaint or protest. We believe that purpose was seriously
none of whom were doing anything wrong while attending an orderly and
peaceful demonstration -- were harassed, then roughly arrested.
We call on the Philadelphia Police Department for a full investigation
of the actions of their officers in and out of uniform in this
incident. We further call for a public apology to the El-Mekki family.
Sharif El-Mekki is a respected, award-winning, principal of a
first protest, which his grandmother, also present at the protest,
described as a civics lesson for my grandson. The
police did not leave this young man with a very positive experience.
With public opposition to the war in
policies growing, we anticipate more public protests in the upcoming
months. Protesters need to know that their constitutional rights are
respected and protected.
Images of police attacking protesters can serve as a deterrent for
others to attend public events of this kind. For the Philadelphia
Police Department to fail to respond to citizens concerns over this
incident could be seen as an indicator that the right to engage in
peaceful protest is no longer guaranteed in
Betsey Piette, Philadelphia International Action Center
Robert Smith, Brandywine Peace Community
Elizabeth Fattah, Suburban Greens
John Grant, Veterans for Peace
Ray Martinez, President, SEIU/PSSU Local 668
Bill Perry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War