Protesters line inaugural parade route
Police arrest anti-Bush protesters a few blocks away from the White House on Saturday
WASHINGTON -- Demonstrators lined the streets of President George W. Bush's inauguration parade on Saturday.
Police said the protests could be the largest at an inauguration since President Richard Nixon assumed the office in 1973.
The protesters had diverse agendas but seemed united by anger over the contested election and mistrust of the new president.
Elsewhere in the United States, more than 10,000 protesters marched in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In Washington, metropolitan police reported four arrests at the inauguration of President Bush. Despite earlier reports of at least nine people arrested, police said others were just detained.
Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Joe Gentile told CNN those arrested have been charged with disorderly conduct, mostly for throwing debris.
At least two arrests occurred a few blocks from the parade route, in the vicinity of 14th and K Streets, where District of Columbia Police Chief Charles Ramsey himself made an arrest,
"What we're trying to do is monitor the group as best we can," Ramsey said. "We had a group that was getting pretty rowdy and we needed to check it a little bit."
The location had about 500 demonstrators from groups ranging from the National Organization for Women, the Justice Action Movement, and a group promoting anarchy. It is not known to which group the arrested demonstrators belong.
Braving cold temperatures some protesters carried placards with slogans such as "Bush -- Racism," along the parade route to protest the inauguration.
Some Americans blame Bush supporters for alleged voting irregularities at some Florida polling places on Election Day which many African-American voters said systematically deprived them of their right to vote. A federal commission is investigating the allegations.
Alleged voting irregularities
Earlier this month, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission heard complaints Thursday from black voters in Florida who said they were wrongly turned away from the polls. Many complained that they were intimidated by police roadblocks or found their names wrongly stricken from voting rolls.
Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris has denied that anyone was blocked from his or her right to vote on November 7. President Bush's brother Jeb Bush is the state's governor.
"Hey, hey, ho, ho, that son of a Bush has got to go," chanted a cluster of protesters among a group of several hundred gathered at Freedom Plaza along the parade route.
More than a dozen law enforcement agencies seeking to avoid a repeat of recent violent protests in Washington greeted them with about 7,000 officers, miles of steel fencing and security checkpoints along the parade route along or near Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House.
20,000 weekend protesters expected
Before the parade started, organizers said as many as 20,000 people could take part in the weekend demonstrations. They insisted the protests would be peaceful, and any violence would be the fault of police.
One group of about 100 noisy demonstrators lined Pennsylvania Avenue carrying signs with slogans such as "Hail to the thief" and "Selected not elected."
"I think it's important to remind the incoming administration the country does not want a right-wing mandate," said protester Mary Anne Cummings of Chicago. "They did not vote for a right-wing mandate."
Another group, meeting in a public park about four blocks from the parade route, dressed in black. They unfurled hand-painted banners, including one that read "Class war for a classless, stateless society -- autonomous resistance." They blew whistles and beat on plastic five-gallon pails with drumsticks.
In San Francisco, as many as 10,000 people marched from city hall to Jefferson Square, while several thousand more rallied in Los Angeles, marching from Pershing Square to the federal building. There were no reported arrests in either city.
'Day of Resistance'
Several major activist groups called for a nonviolent "Day of Resistance" against what they termed an "illegitimate" presidency decided by a divided Supreme Court.
The groups include the National Organization for Women, Al Sharpton's National Action Network and several coalitions representing causes ranging from the environment to the death penalty.
"Although we represent different constituencies we are finding that we share a number of common concerns, especially outrage about the trampling of the electoral process and the disenfranchisement of voters," said Les Souci, an organizer of Voter March, which wants a Voters' Bill of Rights and campaign finance reform.
In preparation for the protests, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police brought in more than 1,600 officers from other jurisdictions -- mainly Maryland and Virginia --
to line the two-mile inaugural parade route, more than doubling the normal contingent.
Despite the extra manpower, police tried to soften their image, wearing dress uniforms instead of the riot gear they donned during the violent protests against the World Bank last April. However, officers were armed with pepper spray cans and tear gas, according to Deputy Police Chief Terry Gainer.
Police said the demonstrator turnout may be the largest since tens of thousands marched against the Vietnam War at Nixon's second inauguration in 1973.
Protesters lose court battle
Demonstrators failed on Friday to persuade U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to relax the security arrangements.
Kessler ruled that the checkpoints don't target protesters or violate their rights, although she said filtering up to 750,000 people through 10 parade checkpoints would be "a logistical nightmare."
CNN Correspondent Kelli Arena, CNN Correspondent Kate Snow, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Saturday, January 20, 2001