I just got back from the protest at Pioneer Park here in Salt Lake City. When over 2000 people show up in Utah–the reddest state in the nation–to protest George W. Bush’s policies, I find myself getting hopeful that change may be in the air.
Rev. Tom Goldsmith of First Unitarian Church led off the speakers with a rousing speech in which he said that President Bush was mistaken if he thought God would lead the nation into a war based on lies, trample on civil liberties, and ignore the poor. He then suggested that President Bush might want to listen less to that God and more to Cindy Sheehan.
Rev. Goldsmith was followed by Mayor Ross C. (Rocky) Anderson, who was greeted with a standing ovation for his courage in calling for this protest. Mayor Anderson articulated clearly that he and the protestors were not there to dishonor or disrespect our troops, but to speak out against the policies of the administration. He led the crowd in a chant of “We won’t take it anymore!” The crowd was clearly enthusiastic when the mayor insisted that Bush policies harm Salt Lake City and all cities. He spoke of the 120 families in Salt Lake who will not be have access to Section 8 housing assistance and told the crowd, “Ask them if they feel more secure.”
The program went on with several other speakers and musicians. The crowd seemed to wander between the stage and the curb, where they waved signs and encouraged and received lots of honks of support. Though George W. Bush himself was probably “protected” from the demonstration, I believe something started here that can make a difference. After all, if Salt Lake City can bring out 2000 people, there must be millions who, if we work together, can send a signal that Bush and those trying to create a world in his image, will not be able to ignore.
Aug. 23, 2005, 11 a.m.
The media coverage has been dismal–consistently underrepresenting the number of protestors and giving “equal time” to the less than 100 counter-protestors. Almost nothing has been said about the content of the mayor’s remarks and I’ve seen nothing at all about Rev. Goldsmith’s powerful words. The best coverage I have seen is here. The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage (with picture) is here. The Tribune does have a page of quotes here.
Later: Surprisingly, the Deseret News, which is owned by the Church of JesusChrist of Latter Day Saints, quotes Rev. Goldsmith extensively. Their article is here.
8:05 p.m. A friend sends this link to an online gallery of photos from the protest.