Not much about Sunday’s Kennebunkport demonstration, at which protesters called for the impeachments of President George W. Bush and veep Dick Cheney, was unique.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT
US TO SEE: A flag-draped memorial coffin at
There were the requisite theatrical props and zanily dressed attendees, the familiar songs and chants (at this point, anyone who doesn’t know what democracy looks like simply hasn’t been paying attention), and the handful of angry counter-protesters. There were the feelings of camaraderie, the first-time protesters, the families with their children, the myriad special-interest causes and those who champion them.
There was the unlikelihood that the event would really make a difference.
But what made Sunday’s event different was that there was a chance that a certain one of protesters’ targets could have — maybe — heard them from where he hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin down the road at the Bush family’s Kennebunkport compound.
And that, for the 1700 or so people who gathered at the town’s village green before marching two miles toward the vacation home, was empowering.
Until they were hoarse, they shouted: “Lock ’em up, lock ’em up, throw away the key.” They cheered heartily for the musical performers, and for the political speakers like John Kaminski, chair of Maine Lawyers for Democracy.“We firmly believe that it is imperative to hold President Bush and Vice President Cheney accountable to the rule of law,” Kaminski said before going on stage. If American citizens don’t at least try to do so, “we set a precedent that other administrations in the future can do the same thing.”
Around 2:15 pm, with Veterans for Peace members at the head of the line, the protesters feistily began their march up Ocean Avenue, passing gawking tourists and manicured Kennebunkport lawns along the way.
Army veteran Ted Goodnight, 33, marched holding an upside-down flag.
“I came here to express my discomfort and rage with the policies of this administration,” said Goodnight, who served in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2004. “It’s very personal. I’m sad that I have to be out here.”
About a mile down the road, just before the group rounded a corner to head up toward the compound, they were greeted by more than 20 American-flag-wielding counter-protesters, including members of the right-wing Gathering of Eagles.
Melida and Carlos Arredondo of Massachusetts, whose stepson and son Alex was killed in Iraq, drove by in a car covered in anti-war paraphernalia, with a flag-draped coffin in back. As it passed, North Yarmouth resident and Vietnam veteran Clyde Conner shouted: “You puke!”
“I think these people hate America,” 60-year-old Conner said. “Many people I know are dead at the hands of communists, and these people are communists.”
Nor was the day devoid of internal disagreement.
At the rally before the march, 42-year-old Tom Childs stood facing Ocean Avenue, holding a sign that read: off with his head.
Calmly but firmly, Chris Stark, 53, approached Childs to tell him he found the sign both disturbing and offensive for its message “endorsing capital punishment.” Stark described such displays as the left-wing “equivalent of Rush Limbaugh.” But Childs responded that he considered the sign to be a metaphor, and that most people understood it to be so.
In the end, Stark acknowledged that they were on the same side: “We all agree on one thing: that Bush needs to be held accountable for his actions.”