Skip to comments.Ralliers trade barbs, cheers outside Cheney MIZZOU speech
Posted on 05/20/2003 6:57:33 AM PDT by rface
Grace Jones of St. Peters didnt expect that her hand-held video camera would be used to capture scenes other than her nephews graduation yesterday.
Standing at the southeast corner of Stadium Boulevard and Mick Deaver Memorial Drive, however, Jones shot pictures of two local groups, one denouncing Vice President Dick Cheney and the other welcoming him to Columbia.
Cheney was the commencement speaker at the University of Missouri-Columbias College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
Across Stadium were about 150 protesters, holding up anti-war and anti-Cheney signs and standing in a line that stretched about 300 feet along one of Columbias busiest streets.
Armed with loudspeakers and drums, the protesters chanted their slogans. "Tell me what democracy looks like," they yelled.
"This is what democracy looks like," people in the pro-Cheney group yelled back, as they clustered across the street and waved American flags and signs that read, "We support our troops."
"Its a beautiful thing," said Roger Brallier, a 34-year-old local law enforcement official, of the competing rallies. But, standing among Cheney supporters, Brallier said war protesters should not forget that todays freedom such as the freedom to dissent and protest would have been impossible without blood and sacrifices.
"Its the citizens responsibility to support their government and the United States," Brallier said.
Protesters on the other side of the street, however, disagreed.
"Id like Dick Cheney to know that I dont agree with his policies, that I dont agree with the Bush administration and that not all Americans agree with him," said Meg Milanick, a mother and the PTA president at Grant Elementary School. "I think the war is about oil, and the occupation is about the oil."
Ryan Walker, an MU graduate, joined war protesters after his commencement at the Hearnes Center, and he said Cheney should not have been a commencement speaker at the university.
"Im offended to have Cheney come to town on my graduation day," Walker said. "To have a war criminal be an honored speaker - it soils the occasion."
It was the protesters, not Cheney, who ruined the occasion for many graduates and their families, said Jen Dzinvenis of Lawrence, Kan., who was in Columbia for her boyfriends graduation.
"Its not the place and time to protest," Dzinvenis said, noting the protesters regardless of their stands should not take the focus away from graduates on a graduation day.
But Mark Haim, director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, said it was the university that took the focus away "by bringing in someone with the baggage that Cheney carries to our campus."
Supporters, however, said it was a great honor to have Cheney visit Columbia.
"Its important that they feel welcome," said Fred Parry, a local radio-show host who organized the supporters rally. "It helps add positive light to the vice presidents visit."
Motorists honked as they drove by, graduates and their families took pictures with the protesters in the background, and people in both camps chanted their slogans. Jones watched it all through the lens of her video camera.
"Its very peaceful," said Jones, 53, who was a college student in 1967 and witnessed the protests of the Vietnam War. "This is mild and I want to go home and show my children what a peaceful protest looks like."
Reach Didi Tang at (573) 815-1718 or firstname.lastname@example.org.