Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bush Go Home

On October 20, former U. S. president George W. Bush was in Edmonton as part of a cross-Canada speaking tour. This was not the first time he was in Canada. Last March, he made an appearance in Calgary. There was a protest outside of the venue where he spoke, and numerous people from Edmonton went down there to join the ruckus.

The peace group I am with, the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism organized a protest outside of the Shaw Conference Centre, along with the Palestine Solidarity Network. Around 600 people showed up for the un-welcoming party - more than in Calgary, and certainly more than the mainstream media reported.

Everything remained peaceful for the most part, despite security guards trying to show their bravado before things got rolling. The half dozen or so of us who got there early to start to set up in front of the Shaw were told that the entire sidewalk was private property and that we had to move our protest across the street in front of Canada Place, or else we would be arrested and charged with trespassing. The members of the Edmonton Police, dressed in full riot gear, clarified that there was actually a portion of the sidewalk that was public. Using their bicycles as a barrier, we crossed over to the front of the Shaw. The bicycles were later replaced by yellow metal barriers.

When entering and leaving, the crowd of mostly white, upper middle class, 30-ish audience members were booed. Mayor Mandel also emerged after the talk, and spoke with reporters. The person next to me commented that she wondered if he would go to see Hitler speak.

Despite a few glitches, like not having power, we were able to set up a sound system. I belted out "Masters of War" because no one says it better than Bob Dylan. Later, I sang "I Only Ask of God" in English, after which a Latin American family came up to me asking if they could sing it with me in Spanish. We positioned them in front of another microphone and went for it. The People's Poets also sang words of solidarity.

Here is my photo set from the event. This short video gives you an idea of what was going on for most of the afternoon/evening. As well, here is the video of me singing "Masters of War" (note: the volume is very high and I had no monitor).

1 comment:

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Actually I noted exactly the opposite: while the crowd was certainly upper class they were of a substantial 30-70 age range and far more ethnically diverse than the 20something whities out front ritualistically expressing their honestly held feelings of Emmanuel Goldstein.

Bonus irony: kaptcha is "ingingsc"