Editor: More first-person color from a participant in Saturday's presidential visit to Grand Junction. The author is Kathleen Baker of Denver. Hat tipto cyber-activists Ron Michel and Fred Holden for passing it along. ==========================
Many of you asked for details of yesterday's protest in Grand Junction, so here is my personal account.
For those of you that don't know Grand Junction, it is the largest town in western Colorado with a population of 48,000. It sits about halfway between Denver and Salt Lake City, both of which are about a four-hour drive. Between Grand Junction and SLC, there is basically nothing. Between Denver and GJ, there are small mountain and resort communities about every twenty to thirty minutes.In other words, there is not a huge population base from which to draw protestors.
From 10 am to 11:30 yesterday, the Grand Junction citizens held a well organized rally at a park a couple miles from the high school where the townhall was held.They asked everyone to sign a registration card so they could have an accurate count of attendance. There were more than 4,000. (That's huge for a town with 48,000 residents.) This is hearsay, but I later heard that out of those 4,000, only three "won" tickets to the townhall.
I spent the majority of my time manning a petition table for a man I met there. The petitions were for amendments to be on the Colorado ballot to limit taxation. Local leaders, I would recommend helping to get signatures: wwww.cotaxreform.com, www.limitpropertytax.com, www.limitCOdebt.com.
I did not see any reporters from the national or Denver news organizations. There appeared to be a reporter from the GJ station. There were also newspaper reporters, one of which I know was from SLC. However, the big players did not appear to be there.
After the rally, there was a break until 3:00. I went to lunch with several representatives of 912 groups from the Front Range area. Then a member of the local group that sponsored the protest invited us to her home until the protest began. On the way to the protest, we saw Air Force One land. It was a strange feeling to see this American icon while detesting the occupant inside.
Now for the protest and all the baloney that goes with this administration. They told everyone the motorcade would be following a certain route. MoveOn or ACORN or whatever group organized the other side reserved the space and set up their protest there. We lined up the other side of the street. (it reminded me of the Revolutionary War where the Patriots and Red Coats faced each other in battle. :-) We way outnumbered them. They were bussed in from Denver. The bus was in plain site, and I passed it while I was driving home. There were also the usual professionally printed signs. It was a typical counter protest of both sides chanting back and forth. The woman on our side with the bullhorn was pretty funny.
It was pretty obvious to me the way it was set up that the motorcade wasn't going to drive down a road lined with counter protestors. The thing that made me angry was they told the Central High School Band they were going to play for it. The kids sat there in the hot sun waiting, and he sneak in another entrance. Those kids were incredibly dejected. It's one thing to sneak past demonstrators but to lie to those kids like that shows what type of character he has.
I don't know how many protestors were there as the rally people split up to different parts of town to protest the motorcade. I do know there were several people there from Denver that missed the earlier rally. There were lots of people filming it, but once again, I didn't see any major players from the media.
So this is where it got funny. Since the ACORN people were bussed in from Denver, they didn't know the high school. Our side had the real protestors who had graduated from there, so they figured out which entrance he used. We all wanted to move to that entrance so when he left, he would see us. However, we didn't want ACORN to follow us. So over a 45-minute period we slowly trickled over there. The front line of our group would keep chanting while the others left. (It was a bit like the Sound of Music.) They had no idea. We were trying to make it look like people were slowly going home. A GJ couple from our side who hadn't been informed of the plan said all of a sudden no one on our side was there. (They were smart and realized we had all moved to another location, so they went looking for us. The ACORNers were too dumb to realize what we had done.)
Anyway, after our little covert operation we had restaged ourselves with only a few socialist demonstrators at the entrance. We were pretty proud of ourselves. :-) This made it perfect for when he came out in his motorcade. We shouted over and over "No you can't!" which turned into the most loud, emotional boo I've ever heard. It was great. It was such a wonderful feeling to be so close to him and to know that he could hear us booing him.
Another thing I wanted to note was a rather strange experience between the police and us. After we had restaged ourselves, the local police guarding the parking lot all of a sudden lined up in a row, riot style (legs spread apart, arms behind the back). It was odd, and the entire angry mob became silent and turned their bodies to look at them. The thing was we intimidated them by our reaction. They all looked at each other and you could see they realized they were us. We were not the enemy. We were their friends and neighbors. Then they quickly retreated and went into a little circle.
Finally, I would like to give some hints to others who may protest BO in the future. They set us up by stating which entrance he was coming in and planting his supporters and the marching band there. They aren't going to drive a presidential motorcade down a street lined with protestors. They are going to bring him in an entrance where the entire block (including sidewalks) is blocked off. Before a protest, have organizers scout the location and see what areas are COMPLETELY blocked off from pedestrians and where there is a substantial higher amount of police. One woman I met when we restaged who had been at the entrance the entire time said they had done that and that's how they figured out which entrance he was using. Be in charge of the situation. We were laughing after restaging because we know (there and across the country) we are always one step ahead of them.
It was a great day, and I met a lot of wonderful people. It made me proud to be an American.