CLEVELAND – With just three days notice, hundreds of angry anti-Bush protesters showed up to greet Dubya on his first visit here this election year. Gathered around a huge rubber rat, the crowd roared, “Bush must go!” Bush came to Cleveland on March 10 to address a conference of businesswomen.

The crowd – steelworkers in black USWA jackets, sheet metal workers in yellow shirts, electrical workers, unionists from CWA, teachers, SEIU members and others – lined St. Clair Avenue. “Re-defeat Bush,” “Save workers’ pensions – kick Bush out,” “Bush – stop pissing on us and telling us it’s raining,” “Save democracy – defeat Bush,” read some of the signs.

Dozens of Sierra Club members held a large banner reading, “We need clean power, not dirty lies!” Other signs called for peace and condemned the illegal invasion of Iraq. A small handful of Bush supporters tried, unsuccessfully, to infiltrate the rally.

The protest turned into an impromptu rally, led by Cleveland AFL-CIO Executive Secretary John Ryan. “Just look at what Bush has helped us organize in only a couple days!” called out Ryan. “We’ve never been so united!”

Other speakers included members of the Cleveland City Council and a leader of the Laborers Union. It was then decided that, regardless of the so-called “security lines,” the crowd should march to the Convention Center a block away where Bush was speaking.

Several hundred marchers stomped over to the center, chanting loudly, “Bush go home.” As Bush left, the march ended. With the bullhorn, Ryan extolled the cheering crowd: “He’ll be back, and we’ll be back, next time bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and in November we send him home to Texas!”

Addressing the business conference, Bush admitted that Ohio had suffered horrible job losses and a stagnant economy, but blamed “terrorists.” The news coverages of the event all stated that they were “surprised,” “overwhelmed,” etc., by the large numbers of protesters. It was reported the following day that the Ohio Department of Transportation had suspended one worker, a city truck driver who was in charge of blocking off streets with his truck for placing a huge “Bush – Traitor” sign on his truck. He is expected to file a grievance on the suspension, since no official regulation prohibits signs on trucks.

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