Demonstrators Protest Bush, Iraq War

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Demonstrators lined an intersection outside a convention hall Tuesday, carrying signs and beating pots and pans, to protest the Iraq war and President Bush, who was inside to address the American Legion National Convention.

The crowd of protesters grew under a hot sun from a handful to about 125. Many wore T-shirts that read "Impeach" and carried signs denouncing the president's stance on Iraq.

The demonstration was organized by Americans Against Escalation
in Iraq. The group is part of a national campaign targeting lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who back the administration's war policies.

The group invited Heller to a town hall meeting Tuesday night to discuss his views on the war, but he was not expected to attend, a group spokeswoman said.

A small disturbance occurred as demonstrators began to assemble when a delegate walking toward the convention yelled, "Why don't you people get a job," as he made his way through the gathering. One woman on the sidewalk was bumped and fell in the street, suffering a scrape on her arm. Police quickly intervened and there were no arrests.

Judy Herman, a former Reno city councilwoman, was one of the first to assemble for the demonstration.

"I want to make sure President Bush understands the U.S. most get out of Iraq and we don't want to go into Iran," she said."

Bush arrived in Reno Monday night and stayed at the Grand Sierra Resort. His motorcade did not pass by demonstrators outside the Reno-Sparks Convention Center where he spoke Tuesday.

Grant Leneaux, a retired professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the president was avoiding the American people.

"How many hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on security so he will not have to encounter his own constituency," he said, holding a sign that read, "While Bush hides in the Grand Sierra, our boys die in the desert sands. Bring them home."

Polly Peacock said she was motivated to attend the protest after hearing the president's defense of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who resigned Monday after months of controversy over the firing of eight federal prosecutors and domestic wiretap policies.

Bush called his longtime friend an honorable man and said he was sad Gonzales' "good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."

"I heard him talk and I thought the man was crazy," Peacock said of Bush. "He's out of touch with everything."

On one corner of busy South Virginia Street, a group calling itself the "Molly Ivins Pots 'N Pans Brigade" kept up a steady clang with metal spoons.

Gale Petterson, one organizer of the group, said it formed in February as a tribute to the late syndicated newspaper columnist, who died in January.

In a Jan. 11 column, Ivins urged readers to stand up against Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, writing, "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!"'

The Reno brigade was formed a few weeks later, and meets every
Tuesday for a half hour in front of the federal courthouse to carrying on Ivins' message.

Petterson, 62, said she's a veteran of political demonstrations, having attended her first in 1965 in front of the United Nations.

"Somebody has to teach the kids not to wear flip-flops at a protest in case you have to run," she quipped.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)