Thursday, August 05, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: VANDALS & HOODLUMS

As Published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
August 5, 2004

Organizers of the recent appearance of Vice President Dick Cheney in Rio Rancho came under fire this week for a controversial move to keep dissenters away — requiring people they didn’t know to sign pledges of support for the Bush-Cheney ticket.


But one Santa Fe Democrat who went to the rally at Rio Rancho Middle School said he didn’t have to sign any loyalty oath.

“Nobody made me sign anything,” said Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer. “That was just to keep out the people from ACT.” He was referring to America Coming Together, the anti-Bush “527” group that has been active in door-to-door canvassing in the state.

Of course Pfeffer already was known to the Bush-Cheney camp. He made headlines a few weeks ago by publicly endorsing Bush.

State Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell — never at a loss of words — described the situation from his view in a recent e-mail newsletter:

“ ... paid protesters were trying to organize to disrupt the Cheney event and very likely vandalize Rio Rancho Middle School — with motor oil, obscene graffiti or other acts of violence,” he wrote.

Describing a group of protesters who were denied entrance to the rally, Adair wrote, “The troublemakers, hecklers and vandals were in fact kept out of the Cheney event. They stood outside and showed their obscene signs, shouted the F-Word at the Vice President and anyone else who came by, poured motor oil on themselves, and generally behaved liked hoodlums.”

Courtney Hunter of ACT had a different view of the event. She said the protest was peaceful and denied that her group was involved in any plans for vandalism or acts of destruction.

She denied she is a hoodlum.

“ACT was part of a coalition of progressive groups and citizens,” she said Wednesday. “The Republicans did their best to keep ordinary citizens out of the rally. But people wanted to tell him what was going on in the country.”

One protester did pour motor oil on himself, Hunter confirmed. “He was not part of ACT.”

Pfeffer said he didn’t see any of the protesters Saturday.

“My own take is that protest is disruptive when somebody’s trying to make a speech, whether it’s Democrats wanting to protest the vice president or Republican students disrupting John Kerry. Both are disrupting free speech.”

The Libertarians are coming!

Cheney was in Rio Rancho Friday, while John Kerry and running mate John Edwards will be in Las Vegas and Gallup this weekend.

But the major parties aren’t the only ones with national candidates coming to the state.

Libertarian Michael Badnarik is coming to New Mexico next week and has scheduled not one but two appearances at Santa Fe’s Tribes Coffee House, 139 W. San Francisco Street, next Wednesday. The appearances are at noon and 6 p.m. Aug. 11.

The Libertarians have joined Bush and Kerry in airing television commercials in New Mexico. In fact, Badnarik’s commercial, called “Peace President,” is showing only in New Mexico. Badnarik has bought $65,000 worth of air time in the state, according to a written statement by the campaign.

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