Voices from the Heartland

From Holden:

The Republikkkans are in deep shit.

A crowd of thousands cheered Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson for calling President Bush a “dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights violating president” whose time in office would “rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.”

The group – including children and elderly and some hailing from throughout Utah – then marched to the federal building Wednesday to deliver a copy of a symbolic indictment against the president and Congress for abuse of power and failure to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

With their signs labeling Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the “axis of evil,” calling the Iraq war a “mission of lies” or comparing the invasion of Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001, to invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor, the estimated 1,500 to 4,000 protesters hoped their demonstration at the Salt Lake City-County Building sent a message about the reddest state in the country.

“If they [the Bush administration] lack support in Utah, my God they’re in trouble,” the Rev. Tom Goldsmith of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City told the lively gathering between protest songs and banner waving.

For those who didn’t get enough, organizers held a “Rock Against Rumsfeld” concert at Pioneer Park in the evening. Between songs, Salt Lake City singer Colin Robison challenged Rumsfeld’s Tuesday speech to the American Legion.

“Critics of the war were equated with Nazi sympathizers. How dare he?” Robison asked the crowd of over 300. “What about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay? Who’s the Nazi?

A mother of an Iraqi war veteran on his second tour, Debbie Johnson, told the crowd they need not heed the “Orwellian double-speak” of the administration.

“This war is illegal. You don’t have to support the war to support our troops.”


“I love America as much as anybody else,” said Brenda Durant, 52, who traveled to the protest from Vernal. “I support the troops and I want to bring them home alive.”

Former Marine Capt. Eric Martineau was in his dress blues to protest the war in Iraq and the Bush administration policies. “I want to let Utah know that pre-emptive war is not LDS doctrine,” he said, noting he is Mormon. “We’ll look back at this [war] and see it as a turning point.” Big-headed papier-mach likenesses of Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice – dressed in jailbird shirts and led through the crowd in handcuffs – added to the carnival atmosphere. A band played the flower-power anthem “Get Together.”


At the federal building, protesters had to wait outside as organizers delivered the petition. The lingering pack, observed by five armed federal guards, chanted “No more war” and “We are the people.”

Looking around the spectacle, Ruth Dunn, of Tooele, summed up the day: “This is what democracy looks like.”