Rocky Calls for Bush Protest

Rocky Calls for Bush Protest

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake City's Mayor Rocky Anderson used e-mail this week to call upon activists, Democrats and some of his top administrative staff for "the biggest demonstration this state has ever seen," when President Bush appears before a national veterans convention Monday.

"There should be a collaboration of health-care-provision advocates, seniors, the (gay, lesbian and bisexual and transsexual) community, anti-Patriot Act advocates and other civil libertarians, anti-war folks, pro-Social Security advocates, environmental advocates, anti-nuclear-testing advocates, and anti-nuclear-waste-shipment-and-storage advocates," the mayor wrote in the e-mail sent Friday.

The mayor, a Democrat who serves in an officially nonpartisan office plans to join the protest.

Bush will address the 15,000-member Veteran of Foreign Wars convention at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City just after 11 a.m. Monday. Anderson give a welcoming address to the convention a few hours earlier.

Anderson says Bush's policies have been "disastrous to the country. If people could organize and speak out in an effective manner from the reddest state in the country, that would garner a lot of attention."

Failing to speak out against Bush's damaging policies would be a mistake and send a message of "apathy and resignation," the mayor wrote.

Anderson cites specifically cutbacks to federal Section 8 housing programs for the poor as Bush programs that have hurt local families. Budget cuts have left 120 fewer families with the ability to find affordable housing, he said.

The mayor also said he is not protesting the veterans organization.

"I'm extremely supportive of the VFW convention; I'm thrilled to have it in our city."

But Jerry Newberry, VFW communications director said the protest is "unfortunate," but that protests are a common occurrence at the group's conventions, particularly the president has spoken. He said, however, that he didn't know of any previous host-city officials that had participated in those protests.

Mike Parkin, the senior vice commander of the VFW's Atomic Post 4355 in Salt Lake City said the move makes Anderson look "very unpatriotic" and "despicable."

Parkin, a Vietnam veteran who voted for Anderson but says he won't do so again, said such demonstrations give comfort to enemies of America and will be offensive to convention attendees.

Anderson disagrees with any notion equating a protest with a lack of patriotism.

"Patriotism," the mayor said, "demands that people speak out when we see our government officials acting in such antidemocratic and deceitful ways to the people of our country."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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