We are facing the same thing at the CGA this week, only we have the prez who is even a bigger target. The various groups will be picketing...I believe in free speech myself and am no friend of W or the Iraq war but let's give the kids their day.
Abbreviated version from the New London Day
New London — Dozens of groups from around New England, joining an event planned by two national peace organizations, are setting up a big day of demonstration to coincide with Wednesday's Coast Guard Academy graduation visit by President Bush.
The groups won't venture any crowd-size estimates, but they are making bus, van and carpool arrangements all around the Northeast.
It will start with a march from downtown to a loud rally at the academy gates that is expected to include sign waving, amplified peace music and speeches by parents who have lost children in the war.
They will be joined not only by demonstrators from impeachbush.org but by marching scientists from an assortment of colleges in Connecticut, who plan to don their academic robes and carry signs protesting the Bush Administration's science policies.
The peace groups, organized by sponsors Veterans for Peace and Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.), will themselves be protested by demonstrators from a new national pro-war group, Gathering of Eagles, which has put out a call on its Web site for people to turn out Wednesday “to counter the left-wing Communist A.N.S.W.E.R. event being held the same day.”
Protesters from the two sides clashed a bit during a peace rally in Washington in March that attracted tens of thousands of people, although both groups say they don't want any trouble in New London.
“At previous events these so-called peace organizations have historically been violent,” said James Bancroft of Bristol, a Marine veteran and the Connecticut coordinator for Gathering of Eagles. “If there is going to be any confrontation, we expect them to start it.”
Bancroft said the group, which has dozens of inquiries on its Web site about travel arrangements to New London, expects as many as a thousand people on each side to come Wednesday.
“They have a right to be there, but we are not going to engage them,” said John Bangart, a spokesman for Veterans for Peace. “What would Martin Luther King do? He would listen.”
New London Police Capt. William Dittman said protests sometimes never materialize in the numbers that organizations predict, but he said the department will be prepared. He said New London is working with Connecticut State Police on security for the presidential visit and the demonstrations.
“I would venture to say, yeah, there will be a lot of people here,” he said. “We don't expect any problems, and if there are any we'll be ready.”
Tahnee Stair of New Haven, an A.N.S.W.E.R. spokeswoman, said planning for the New London demonstration began months ago. In addition to the demonstration Wednesday there will a series of related events in the city, starting with a forum, slide show and discussion tonight at the Hygienic Art Galleries, which begins at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, the national group Iraq Veterans Against the War will host a public forum, starting at 1 p.m. at The Oasis on Bank Street. It will feature a panel discussion with U.S. Marine and Navy veterans and the co-founders of Appeal for Redress, which is collecting signatures of active-duty military who support a troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Veterans for Peace will have a regional peace planning meeting for its members Tuesday in New London, and the region's national president, Elliott Adams, a descendent of the two presidents, will be in town conducting nonviolence training.
Starting Tuesday evening, the group will conduct an all-night peace vigil at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument downtown. It will be held in honor of Cal Robertson, who has conducted his own vigil there for more than 20 years. Robertson hurt his knee in a fall recently but is expected to attend, Bangart said.
“Cal has been a constant Gandhian presence in the New London community, and we want to honor his tradition,” he said. “We also want to take the opportunity to stand up against George W. Bush.”
Also attending the group's demonstration will be Carlos Arredondo, who lost his son in the war and who has become known around the country for the memorial he sets up at peace rallies, with a flag-draped coffin in the back of his pickup truck.
The Raging Grannies, grandmothers against the war, and Code Pink, women war protesters known for their pink feather boas, will also be here, Bangart said. Bangart said he has been involved in the peace movement since 1971, when he protested with John Kerry, who served in Vietnam with Bangart's twin brother.
Wednesday's protest by scientists was organized by Marc Zimmer, professor of chemistry at Connecticut College. He said the group will include about 100 scientists, many faculty from schools all over the state, who will march from the college's science building to a lawn at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, across Route 32 from the academy.