January 19, 2001

Ithacans Prepare Bush Protests at Home and on the Road

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More than 100 Ithaca residents — including close to 40 Cornell faculty members and students — will head to Washington D.C. Saturday to protest the inauguration of U.S. President-elect George W. Bush.

Police are estimating a crowd of 300,000 to 700,000 supporters and protesters in the capital this weekend, which would make it one of the biggest rallies since war waged in Vietnam, according to Pete Meyers, an organizer with the Ithaca Coalition for Global Justice.

“People are going to protest on different issues,” Meyers said. “The system to me seems like an illegitimate system. The electoral college is a hold over from the days of slavery.”

Hot issues to be addressed on Saturday will include the recount in Florida, blacks and Latinos who were “intimidated” at the polls and the future of women’s reproductive rights, Meyers added.

“The basic premise is that we’re not going to be quiet during this administration. We want President Bush to known that when he acts against the poor or women, we’ll be out there in the streets,” said Liz Chimienti ’02, president of the Cornell Organization for Labor Action, which will send three students to D.C. “It’s not partisan; it’s about issues.”

In the Ithaca area, protesters will gather at noon Saturday on The Commons to speak out against the inauguration as well as the new administration’s policies on women’s rights, the environment and gun control.

Keynote speakers include Assemblyman Marty Luster (D-125) and Irene Stein, president of the Tompkins County Democrats. Other speakers can step up to the open microphone at the end of the event.

“There are people who can’t go to Washington who want this to happen here. You want to honor those who are going down and those who can’t go down,” said Fay Gougakis, an organizer of the Ithaca protest. “The main theme of the rally is that Bush took this illegitimately. Some people say that there are no differences between the candidates; I believe there are major differences.”

Michael Moschella ’02, president of the Cornell Democrats, said that while members of the organization will be present at both rallies, leaders of the group are not actively encouraging them to attend.

“We didn’t really want to press the issue. He’s got to be president, right?” Moschella said. “It better serves the democratic party … to focus on issues up here rather than put all our efforts into sending people to D.C.”

As of Thursday evening, 12 seats were still open on buses and vans which leave for D.C. tonight at midnight from the Tompkins County Public Library.

Archived article by Beth Herskovits