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President, greeted by protestors, lays wreath at King tomb

By JEFFRY SCOTT, BILL MONTGOMERY, ERNIE SUGGS and CHARLES YOO
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writers


Hundreds of protesters greeted President Bush in Atlanta shortly before 4 p.m. as he placed a wreath on the grave of Martin Luther King Jr. on what would have been the slain civil rights leader's 75th birthday.

The president walked slowly down Freedom Walk and crossed the bridge leading to the King crypt with King's wife, Coretta Scott King, on his left, and the civil right leader's sister, Christine King Farris, on his right.

Bush received the wreath from an Air Force soldier and walked over and placed it in front of the crypt and stood in silent prayer for about a minute.

In the background protesters could still be heard chanting, and their boos grew louder as the president stood before the crypt.

Bush returned to the presidential motorcade at about 4:05 after saying goodbye to the King family members. The motorcade headed down Auburn Avenue towards the Georgia Wold Congress Center where the president will attend a Bush-Cheney 2004 political fund-raiser this evening.

Just before Bush's appearance, Buddhists chanting, students beating African drums and others shouting "Bush go home" burst past barriers but were driven back by police who, in an attempt to corral the protesters, parked four MARTA buses between the protesters and the grave site.

One protester held a sign that read "Bush - Zionist, puppet and liar."

Police had said they planned to keep the protestors 500 feet away from Kings crypt but the protesters, teeming just across Auburn Avenue, were much closer and could see the president as he placed the wreath.

A park ranger on the scene earlier warned protesters if they did not keep off Auburn Avenue the president would not come, but Bush appeared right on schedule, at about 3:50 p.m.

Atlanta Police Sgt. Kevin Iosti said two people were arrested for stepping into Auburn Avenue and refusing to move.

Air Force One touched down at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. at 3:23 p.m.

The president visited King's grave while on a campaign trip to Atlanta.

"It's all politics," said barber Seaborn Johnson, as he sliced an apple waiting for customers in the Auburn Avenue Barber Shop. "It's an election year, isn't it? Hell, I would come there too if I was running for office. But the Bush family always opposed everything Dr. King did, so he's just applying for votes, that's all he's doing."

"I would dismiss any notion of politics while paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King," said White House spokesman Taylor Gross, in a telephone call around 4:20 p.m.

"The president does have another event in Atlanta," Gross said of a campaign fund-raiser this evening at the Georgia World Congress Center, "but he is extremely honored by the opportunity to pay his respects to the legacy of Dr. King."

The spokesman said Bush's visit to King's grave was to honor the late civil right leader.

"The president spoke earlier today at a church in New Orleans where Dr. King spoke in 1961. It is important to this president to honor [King's] memory and he has a commitment to building on Dr. King's legacy of equal justice for all."

The president's visit has drawn criticism from King event organizers who say that it will disrupt tributes to the civil rights leader on what would have been his 75th birthday.

At an NAACP press conference this morning at the Atlanta chapter's headquarters, the group questioned the true motive for Bush's visit.

Bush contacted the King Center late last week to say he'd be in Atlanta today and wanted to pay his respects by placing a wreath at King's crypt.

"Did he come to raise funds for Republicans and stop by to lay a wreath as a secondary ploy or is he sincere about laying the wreath and the fund-raising secondary?" said Dr. R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP.

"With a spoken position against what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for, the Bush administration has stood against -- affirmative action [and refused] to meet with the national leadership of civil rights organizations, including the premier organization, the NAACP, which has been in existence since 1909."

A presidential visit requires tight security, which in this case threatened to force the cancellation of a long-planned tribute to King next door at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Members of the MLK March Committee, who worked with King and planned today's tribute at the church, had complained that Bush might end up ruining the event. They said the daylong tribute with a focus on human rights was supposed to go from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., but that Secret Service agents told them they'd have to empty the church early in the afternoon to allow a security sweep before Bush's 3:45 p.m. visit. But on Wednesday, a compromise was reached. The program can now take place while the president is at the King Center.

Efforts by Bush organizers to coordinate the president's visit so it won't disrupt local celebrations didn't seem to have soothed everybody's feelings.

"I think he takes us black people as a joke," said barber shop customer Willie Tom Franklin, 58. "I wouldn't say he shouldn't come, but he's a little late in coming to Auburn Avenue.

"It's a gesture of respect, him coming to King's grave, but it's not about helping us ... I think it's about feeding off the little people."

Ulysses Crawford, owner of Auburn Avenue Barber Shop, asked, "How long has Bush been in office, three years? And how often have you seen him here?"

Mary Langston, who said she has been homeless since her divorce few months ago, had more positive things to say.

"I'm just a homeless person, but I'm proud he's taking some of his busy time to honor Dr. King," Langston said.

Anthony Bozeman, a former fast food manager, said while at the barbershop that he supported the president's motives for visiting King's grave.

"I don't think it was strictly politics. I think it comes from his heart. Dr. King was a great man, and he showing respect for that," Bozeman said. He added that the invasion of Iraq was "a good job against a man who spent his life torturing and killing his own people."

BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
 
 BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
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I saw that on TV and what a disgrace, Bush should've been protested. The NAACP organized the protest. I don't say I much blame them. Neither party has responded to the NAACP's orthe CBC's requsts to meet with the president. And since Bush has been in office he has done nothing but try to pull the wool over the eyes of many in our community. This visit to the King memorial is a prime example. He should meet with the NAACP and the CBC as per their requests and address some of the concerns that these prominent groups are willing to discuss. However, I'm not holding my breath waiting for this to happen.

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
This is an update to yesterday's story.

Bush's Atlanta visit marked by protests
Wreath-laying ceremony part of a two-city swing into South


ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) --About 400 protesters lined the street across from the King Center in Atlanta as President Bush laid a wreath at the tomb of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to commemorate the 75th birthday of slain civil rights leader Thursday.

Carrying signs and chanting to rhythms pounded from conga drums, members of the crowd resisted efforts by police to move them to a designated protest area about 150 yards from the reflecting pool in front of the simple white marble crypt.

King's widow, Coretta Scott King, walked with the president to her husband's tomb. After Bush laid the wreath, he stood, head bowed, for about 15 seconds.

Although King Center officials did not invite Bush to join their planned celebration, Mrs. King met briefly with the president.

Shortly before Bush's arrival, a line of city buses parked in front of the center, preventing Bush and the protesters from seeing each other, although the demonstrators' jeers and slogans were not muted.

Their signs indicated the protesters were drawn from a wide coalition. "War is not the Answer," "Promote Peace, Not Halliburton," "HUD Sponsors Racism," "Impeach the Liar" and "No Blood for Oil" were just a few of them.

Two people were taken into custody when they attempted to cross the street.

Bush later issued a statement marking next Monday as the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

"America has come far in realizing Dr. King's dream, but there is still work to be done," the statement said. "In remembering Dr. King's vision and life of service, we renew our commitment to guaranteeing the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans."

The wreath-laying ceremony was part of a two-city swing into the South by Bush that included a speech to a mostly black church and a fund-raiser at the D-Day Museum, both in New Orleans, Louisiana, and another fund-raiser later in Atlanta.

Among the civil rights leaders angered by Bush's appearance at the King Center was the Rev. Tim McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta and a demonstration organizer.

"The thing that is most hypocritical is choosing the 75th anniversary of his birth -- the man who was the epitome of peace, perhaps the most noted African-American anti-war individual," McDonald said.

"To come on his birthday ... when this president unilaterally went to war, is still engaged in war, an illegal and unjust war."

McDonald said Bush has adversely affected minority communities through his policies on criminal justice, the elderly, Medicare, housing and unemployment.

"That is what we think Dr. King would be speaking out against," McDonald said. "For him [Bush] to try to overshadow that and photo-op and hijack our appreciation and admiration for Dr. King is just not going to be tolerated."

McDonald accused Bush, who won just 9 percent of the African-American vote in the 2000 election, of being motivated more by politics than by any admiration for King.

"They're trying to woo black votes to the Republican Party," McDonald said. "It's turning African-Americans off. Now everybody sees the arrogance and the hypocrisy of this administration. This is nothing personal. It's his policies -- in direct opposition to what Dr. King lived and died for."
Bush touts faith-based programs

Earlier in the day, Bush told congregants at the Union Bethel AME Church in New Orleans, where King once preached, "It's important for our country to honor his life and what he stood for. Dr. King understood that faith is power greater than all others."

Bush also announced he had issued an executive order opening $3.7 billion in Justice Department grants to bids from faith-based institutions.

"Government should not fear faith-based programs. We ought to welcome faith-based programs and we ought to fund faith-based programs," Bush said in an address at the church, which runs a day-care center and a program to feed the homeless on weekends.

"Many of the problems that are facing our society are problems of the heart. Addiction is the problem of the heart," Bush said in indicating why he believes government alone cannot solve some social problems.

Bush has been trying to persuade Congress to change the laws governing federal funding of religious-based programs since shortly after he took office in 2001.

But his opponents have held up such legislation, saying it would be tantamount to government support of specific religions.

"They balked," Bush said. "So I signed an executive order instructing all federal agencies not to discriminate against religious groups."

Since he made that move, most of his Cabinet departments have opened offices to solicit bidding from faith-based programs.

"The playing field is now level," Bush told the church members. "You've got a chance to bid along with other types of organizations ... without fear of discrimination."

Bush was introduced at the Atlanta fund-raising dinner by U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, and the White House later issued a fact sheet listing a number of Georgia Democrats who have endorsed Bush, including Miller.

Others on the list were former Attorney General Griffin Bell, former U.S. Sen. David Gambrell, former Rep. Doug Barnard and Virgil Williams, former chief of staff to Miller when he was governor. The statement said 12 Democratic and one independent state legislator also have endorsed Bush.

BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
I believe this speaks to something I said in the other thread as to how some Black folk love the celebrity of the president and forget his policies when he visit their church or a meeting they are hosting. Every Black man and woman in Atlanta should have been there protesting Bush laying a reef in honor of MLK. I am very disappointed with Corretta Scott King.

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"We got to organize ourselves, We got to mobilize and there can't be no confusion in our collective solution, If not for ourselves, then for our kids, because we know who our enemy is!"

DPZ "for the hood"

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem
* A different version of the same article

Throngs boo Bush at grave of MLK
By LOUISE CHU
Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Kathy Nicholas had planned to pay quiet tribute Thursday at the tomb of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

So did President Bush. The scene was anything but quiet.

Nicholas was among about 800 people who booed, chanted and beat drums near the typically placid grave site, angry that Bush was there on what would have been the slain civil rights leader's 75th birthday.

The protesters pushed past Secret Service barricades. They pounded on the sides of five city buses parked in front of King's tomb to block them from the president's motorcade.

Two people were arrested for stepping into the street and refusing to move.

As Bush arrived, the crowd booed and chanted "Bush go home!" He placed a wreath on King's grave before heading to a $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser in Atlanta.

Bush's visit to observe King's birthday upset some civil rights activists who said the president's policies on Iraq, affirmative action and funding for social services conflict with King's legacy. They also said the scheduling conflicted with their own plans to honor King.

Officials at the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the organization founded by King's widow, said they extended no invitation to Bush but accepted his offer. "Out of respect for that office and out of respect for Dr. King, he's coming," said Lynn Cothren, Coretta Scott King's assistant.
...then off he went and appointed, all by himself, Judge Pickering (a "former" believer in Segregation) to a federal judge position. Gotta love the Southern (although Bush was born in New Haven, CT) Caucasian male, in charge of us allllllll. We's free, ain't we???

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The petty bourgeoisie are the first to sell out. When they obtain status their lives generally lose both content and significance. - Black Consciousness

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