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Saturday, April 22, 2006

California protesters "greet" Bush in force

Even Bubble Boy Bush had to notice his meeting had to be relocated because there were so many people with pickets blocking his way. He's so unpopular in California, why does he even bother? -hl

Watch video: Protesters force Bush to move Stanford meeting

Mercury News

More than 500 protesters beat drums and called for President Bush's resignation Friday as the president prepared to speak to Silicon Valley leaders at the sprawling Cisco Systems Inc. headquarters here.

Police restricted the demonstration to a few blocks from where the president was going to appear, meaning the motorcade would not see the colorful banners calling him everything from a criminal to a liar to a murderer.

The noisy but peaceful protesters said they were not discouraged and pressed to get their messages across as they took aim at everything from Indian health care funding cuts to the war in Iraq.

"Ken's voice has been silenced, but mine hasn't," said Karen Meredith, a Mountain View woman whose son, Ken Ballard, was killed two years ago in Iraq. "Today is a day we unwelcome Bush to San Jose."

Dan Moore took the afternoon off work from Cisco to join the demonstrators.

"I just oppose the direction the president is taking the country, especially when America is supposed to be an economic leader," Moore said. "He seems to be more focused on issues that drive fear into people when there are more important issues like the economy."

Friday's visit was Bush's fourth to Silicon Valley. Cisco CEO John Chambers is a Bush donor.

Hundreds more gathered for a protest later in the afternoon at Stanford University, where Bush had scheduled a private meeting at the conservative Hoover Institution with scholars, including Hoover fellow and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

Plans to hold the meeting on campus were scuttled when protesters blocked Bush's motorcade from going through the only entrance. Shultz, who was already hosting a private dinner for Bush later at his Palo Alto home, had the session moved to his two-story, gray-shingled house.

At least three people were arrested for sitting in an intersection during the demonstration, according to organizers. Stanford police couldn't immediately confirm the arrests.

The White House said the protesters blocked the only road into the central areaof the campus where Hoover is located, which forced a meeting with several Hoover fellows to be moved to the campus home of former Secretary of State George Shultz, a Hoover fellow who organized the gathering.

The motorcade instead traveled to the house, which is on the outer edge of campus.

The change in plans delayed the president's arrival by about 15 minutes.

Protesters said they were disappointed that the President would not see them and accused the President of sneaking around to avoid them.