SALT LAKE CITY — A storm of passions blew in Salt Lake City Aug. 29-31 as President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Salt Lake City to address the annual Legionnaires Convention in the Salt Palace. Rallies in favor of President Bush’s foreign policy and the war in Iraq fought for attention with anti-war and anti-Bush protests and immigration rallies. A three-man demonstration calling itself "Death to Israel," was out maneuvered by a pro-Israeli demonstration of half a dozen people across the street. The anti-Israeli demonstrators spent the morning Aug. 30 trying to pay passers-by $10 an hour to hold their protest signs.
Individual voices gave question to Utah’s status as one of the reddest states in the country, as the largest demonstration by far was the "We the People for Justice and Peace Rally," admittedly an anti-Bush protest at Washington Square.
Rev. Tom Goldsmith, master of ceremonies for the Aug. 30 "We the People Rally," called on those present to "Say no to Bush, no to Rice, and no to Rumsfeld." Adding that President Bush was "in for a large dose of truth" when he arrived later that day... When they lack support in Utah, they are in trouble."
Aaron Davies, a member of Veterans for Peace, said as a veterans advocate and G.I. rights counselor, "I talk every day to veterans and soldiers about benefits and problems in the V.A. health care system... Many people here in this state cannot understand how we can support the troops and oppose the war. This blind and politicized way of thinking has created such divisiveness...
"The army that can defeat terrorism doesn’t wear uniforms, or drive Humvees ®, or call in air strikes. It doesn’t have a high command, high security, or a high budget. The army that can defeat terrorism does battle quietly clearing mine fields and vaccinating children. It undermines military dictatorships and military lobbyists and subverts sweatshops and special interests. Where people feel powerless, it helps them organize for change, and where people are powerful, it reminds them of their responsibility."
Twelve blocks away, in Liberty Park, Legionnaires and their families listened to speakers who called those who protest the war in Iraq "unpatriotic" and "un-American." When Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff stood to speak, he called Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson "stupid" for opposing President Bush’s foreign policy and the war in Iraq. Angry words almost drowned out the quiet, dignified voice of Dr. Iman Algobory, a physician from Iraq who spoke about the peace of which the people in her country dream: "We want to live in peace. The insurgents who are attacking the Iraqi people are not real Iraqis. We know nothing of suicide bombers. They are coming from the outside."
Back at Washington Square, Mayor Anderson ratcheted up the rhetoric, calling President Bush "dishonest," and "war-mongering." The mayor rallied protestors to march en masse to the federal building to deliver a petition to indict the president, Congress, and the administration on counts including abuse of power and failure to uphold the Constitution. Recalling the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Anderson said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Later in the afternoon, the Utah Republican Party reused Washington Square for their own pro-Bush rally, which featured speakers Shurtleff and Senator Robert Bennett moments before leaving to greet President Bush at the airport.
After speaking at the pro-Bush rally, Representative Chris Cannon continued on to an immigration rally at Liberty Park sponsored by Proyecto Latino de Utah. Although attendance was low, Proyecto Latino organizer Tony Yapias’ brother James Yapias used the opportunity to note most Hispanic immigrants could not come because of work. "Inform yourselves about the democracy of the United States, and educate your children," he reminded those present, "because they are the ones who will vote."