US activists vent their rage as Bush exits
AFP - 1 hour 38 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - - As George W. Bush prepared to leave the US presidency, protestors hurled shoes at the White House in a symbolic farewell for the man they accuse of gross mismanagement, obstructing justice and war crimes.
Activists and tourists eager to see the Bush era end appeared throughout the day in front of the famed residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to snicker their good-byes.
There were no huge crowds celebrating Bush's pending departure, as the focus of the human flood that descended on Washington was on celebrating Barack Obama's historic rise to the presidency. But many were bitter over the Bush years.
"President Bush is leaving office and he's not being held accountable for his offenses. There is a laundry list of things he could be charged with," said activist Jamilla El-Shafei, who organized the shoe-throwing protest.
The protest honored the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at the US president on December 14 during Bush's farewell visit to Iraq, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world.
El-Shafei inflated a 25-foot (eight-meter) effigy of Bush with a long Pinocchio nose at Dupont Circle, away from the heavy flow of tourists, and invited activists and people passing by to throw shoes at it.
A few hundred protesters then marched to the White House, where they threw shoes at the building's iron gates.
Jay Marx, an activist with the Washington Peace Center, stood on a walkway outside the rear White House gates and called for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to be tried as war criminals.
"You've killed millions, displaced millions, (brought) endless shame, wasted trillions. You've wasted our time," Marx cried. Two security guards surveyed the cluster of shoes that littered the ground near Marx, grinning.
A woman dressed as the Grim Reaper and a man in a paper mache Bush headpiece, prison garb and ball and chain posed for photographs with tourists.
"I hated Bush before it was cool," read one banner.
Bush "was given his eviction papers by the American people," said Arizona resident Diamond Dar, using a touch of embellishment.
"As a Native American we never trusted the US government because they've always lied to us," said Dar, but she said she expected conditions to improve under Obama.
In downtown Washington a lone protestor stood in the middle of a human flood heading into a subway station holding aloft a small sign that simply read "Arrest Bush."
Bartholomew Jackson, 17, said he wanted to bring the outgoing president to justice for causing the deaths of thousands of American troops by ordering them to Iraq.
At a small square three blocks from the White House, protestors shackled their legs together, donned orange prison suits -- similar to those worn by some detainees at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- and held signs including "Arrest Bush" and "No torture for empire."
Few people seemed to take notice.
"Bush used scare tactics to silence the opposition," said Gary Brooks, a middle-aged African-American doctor visiting Washington for the inauguration. "The use of patriotism went a long way" in keeping dissidents quiet, he said.
"The Iraq war was a war for oil," added his friend Derrick Buckingham, a computer security analyst. "The Bush administration was government for the oil industry. That will change under Obama."
Not everyone thought ill of Bush.
"It's going to be sort of like Richard Nixon. Ten, 15 years later he'll become an elder statesman," said Howard Brown, a substitute high school teacher from the state of Connecticut.
"People will realize what he did, and that he did it with the best interests of America in his heart," he said.
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A protester and a cut out of George. W Bush painted with devils horns outside the White House. As Bush prepared to leave the US presidency, protestors hurled shoes at the White House in a symbolic farewell for the man they accuse of gross mismanagement, obstructing justice and war crimes
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