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Rocky calling for protesters — again

Another anti-war rally planned for Saturday despite past criticism

Rocky Anderson
Rocky Anderson
Gary McKellar, Deseret Morning News

Undeterred by criticism he faced the first time, Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson is rallying the troops for another protest of President Bush and the war in Iraq.

"He's speaking up again," Anderson's spokesman Cliff Lyon said.

Of course this time, the president won't be in town.

This anti-war rally corresponds with a larger march in Washington, D.C., organized by United for Peace and Justice. That three-day rally begins Saturday and goes through Monday. Organizers have encouraged those who can't make it to Washington to hold rallies in their hometowns.

In Salt Lake City, protesters plan to gather at Pioneer Park at 11 a.m., march to the City & County Building at 11:30 a.m. and then hold the rally from noon to 2 p.m.

Anderson plans to deliver a speech there Saturday. Earlier this week, he sent an e-mail urging concerned citizens to show up.

"Be counted among the thousands of people in the Salt Lake City area who are deeply troubled about the direction in which our nation is headed and who exercise their citizenship, moral authority and leadership in speaking up and acting on their deeply held convictions," Anderson wrote.

The e-mail was sent to all of the hundreds of people who contacted Anderson about the Aug. 22 protest at Pioneer Park corresponding with Bush's speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention downtown.

Many of those e-mailers said Anderson was in bad form for protesting while the president was visiting the city. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who flew on Air Force One with the President, called the protesters "nutcakes."

Other e-mailers, however, voiced support for Anderson's protest and railed against Bush.

Anderson's office announced Thursday that Anderson and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin have been named honorary recipients of the Wings of Justice Award, presented weekly by an independent Internet-based media news group. The award recognizes "their courageous efforts to ensure that America remains a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people, and for upholding the principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States of America."

In his e-mail this week, Anderson criticized Hatch, certain City Council members and the Deseret Morning News editorial writers for condemning the rally.

"According to a United States senator, a newspaper-editorial board and a number of vocal critics of my participation in the rally, only support of the status quo or complacency is 'patriotic,' " Anderson wrote. "Their view is that I should have had the decency to just keep quiet. That's not going to happen."

Saturday's protest is being organized locally by a coalition of groups led by People for Peace and Justice of Utah — a grass-roots organization advocating nonviolence and justice.

Tom King, a volunteer for the group, expects at least 1,000 people at Saturday's rally, which will be focused on the Iraq War and will also seek to raise funds for the Iraqi Doctors Association.

"Many born and raised Americans who are very patriotic and love this country view this as a war of aggression," King said. "Some people are making an absolute (financial) killing on this war."