Bush’s visit to California draws protest over energy
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Protesters dogged President Bush’s California tour Tuesday, deriding his energy policy and accusing him of being too close to power providers.
Bush remained out of sight to most protesters, who staged noisy demonstrations outside his appearances, sometimes argued with his supporters, but remained peaceful.
”Mr. Bush you can’t hide, we can see your corporate ties,” protesters chanted outside the Century Plaza Hotel as Bush spoke to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
About 300 people gathered outside the hotel, including Sierra Club member Tonia Young, 42, who brought her 8-year-old son, James Bilderbeck, in his Cub Scout uniform to protest the rising energy prices that are giving Californians utility bill shocks.
”We’re out here because our electric bill is $300 and it wasn’t that last year,” James said.
Young said Bush should focus on alternatives such as solar power.
”There’s no supply problem with the sun,” Young said.
Ending dependence on traditional power was a common theme through the day.
”We’ve got to free ourselves from the shackles of the energy companies,” said Peter Dudar as he banged a drum.
”Oil comes from dinosaurs and dinosaurs are holding on to it,” said Blase Bonpane, director of the Office of the Americas human rights organization.
Concern about oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge brought Eveline Leisner to the demonstration outside the Century Plaza.
”And I’m worried about the fact that even now people are not conserving energy. she said. ”They’re just not sensitized to the situation.”
A handful of Republicans drew boos from the crowd.
Bush supporter Carol Gordon said that to solve the energy crisis California officials should ”stop all this ecology crap and let them (power plants) work 24 hours a day.”
Some protesters got into a shouting match with Ron Cabrera Jr., a Libertarian holding a placard supporting Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
”We should protect the environment but we shouldn’t do it at the expense of our people,” said Cabrera.
Earlier, about 100 protesters waved signs and shouted in support of electricity rate caps at the gate of Camp Pendleton, where Bush spoke to Marines.
Protesters from the state Democratic Party, the Green Party and environmental, consumer and socialist organizations, called on Bush to support capping energy prices that have soared since deregulation took effect in California last year.
”We’ve got to stop the gouging and work towards a cleaner, more sane energy policy,” said June Brashares of Global Exchange, an environmental and labor organization.
Her father Bob Brashares, a 74-year-old retired minister from Escondido, criticized Bush for ”complete inactivity” on the state’s energy crisis.
Bush flew into the Marine base, 40 miles north of San Diego, without confronting the protesters.
An attempt by protesters to walk onto the base was blocked by California Highway Patrol officers. Some demonstrators criticized Bush for not speaking to them.
”He should be here. He should address the crowd,” said Patricia Verwiel, a fourth-grade teacher from Riverside.
Cynthia Rich, a retired teacher from San Diego, agreed. ”I think it’s really cowardly for him to go on the base where he has a captive audience.”
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