Shouting slogans like “Send Bush to Mars,” about 200 Connecticut students and residents –including some Yale students — attended a protest against President Bush Thursday afternoon in Greenwich.
Organized by Greenwich High School students and Joshua Allen and Igor Zhukovsky, co-founders of the Student Coalition for Peace and Democracy, the protest took place in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where President Bush had a $2000-per-person fundraising reception.
Allen said the protest was organized to rally support against the war in Iraq and because he and Zhukovsky believe the administration lied to the American public about the facts.
“If a five-year-old child would be scolded for lying, a lying President should be jailed,” Allen said.
The demonstration attracted the attention of broadcasting stations Channel 8, Channel 3, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC among others, press adviser Ralph Ferrucci said.
“Because Bush is going to be at Greenwich it makes it easier to get the press to show up,” Ferrucci said before the protest. “The problem is the right is so organized and the left is just getting that way now. We’ve got to start training the liberals on how to use the press.”
Allen said the most time-consuming tasks for organizing the protest only took the amount of time it takes to write an e-mail. After reading of the President’s plan to visit Greenwich, Allen said he and Zhukobsky sent thousands of e-mails and made thousands of phone calls to raise public awareness.
Naasiha Siddiqui ’05 said she found out about the demonstration in an e-mail and attended it to show contention with the Bush administration for passing the Patriot Act, increasing defense budget spending, and practicing “favoritism among corporations.”
“I feel that Bush is elitist, xenophobic and imperialist,” Siddiqui said.
New Haven resident and Green party member Allan Brison made a sign reading “Bush is a liar” on the train ride to Greenwich.
“I’m very much opposed to the war and the way Bush and the administration lie,” Brison said. “Even before 9/11 they knew they wanted to invade Iraq.”
As protesters shouted “Go back to Texas” at a passing helicopter, Zhukovsky said he hoped the protest would spark more disagreement with Bush’s current policies.
“We hope that this translates all across America,” Zhukovsky said.
A high school senior at the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Conn., said she traveled two hours to attend the protest because she disagreed with Bush’s policies over same-sex marriage.
“I would really appreciate it if he would respect the rights of gays and lesbians in this country,” she said while holding a sign that read “Just let me get married.”
As the sole supporter of President Bush during the first half hour of the protest, Connecticut resident Zeqir Berisha dressed in American flag attire and waved a pole with an American flag in support for the current administration.
“This is the greatest president,” Berisha said. “He had the guts to go after Saddam Hussein. He destroyed the nests of those terrorists.”
Richfield, Conn., resident Elizabeth Thompson said she found it unfair that the two poles she brought to the demonstration and those of other protestors were taken away by the police, while Berisha was able to keep his pole with an American flag.
Police officer John Thorme said the cardboard and plastic poles were confiscated as a safety precaution, though he said he could not comment on why the same was not done with the pole waved by Berisha.
“We took [the poles] away for theirs and our own safety,” Thorme said.
Greenwich police sergeant Roger Petrone said an estimated 50 police officers were hired by Greenwich to keep the protest under control.
New Haven resident and Democrat Josiah Brown ’92 met Green party members on the train ride to the Greenwich. He said though he and other Democrats could not attend the rally, they agreed with ousting the Bush administration and its “destructive policies.”
“Millions of Democrats share the general criticism of Bush that members of the Green party will be expressing.” Brown said. “The tax cuts for those least in need of tax cuts is another concern for Democrats.”