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Poor to Put 'Bushville' Tent City at NY Convention

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  • Poor to Put 'Bushville' Tent City at NY Convention

    Feb 19, 6:32 pm ET

    By Grant McCool

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - A group fighting poverty announced plans on Thursday to erect a tent city called "Bushville" during the Republican Party convention in August, one of several demonstrations expected in a summer of political protest in New York.

    The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign will put up the tents for five days before the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 meeting, which will nominate President Bush to run for a second four-year term in the Nov. 2 election.

    The group said it will also demonstrate at the Democratic Party's national convention in Boston at the end of July, but had no plans to set up a symbolic shantytown there.

    "We will be marching because both Democrats and Republicans alike have failed to address our real life and death issues," said spokeswoman Cheri Honkala. She said the political establishment neglected poor and homeless people and issues such as health care, housing and farm workers' rights.

    Honkala, a formerly homeless mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said the group will provide "reality bus tours" in rundown areas of New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey from the tent city. She declined to disclose its precise location.

    The group plans a march on Aug. 30 from U.N. headquarters to the Madison Square Garden convention venue, she said.

    As a prelude to the summer protests, the U.S.-led war in Iraq will be the focus of anti-war rallies on March 20 in New York and around the country. The date was chosen by the United For Peace and Justice organizers because it is the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

    One protest will feature military families in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with the "September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows" group, whose members lost loved ones in the 2001 hijacked plane attacks on America.

    New York activists organized one of the largest anti-war rallies on Feb. 15, 2003, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets to oppose the war over Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction. Weapons stockpiles have not been found and more than 500 Americans and thousands of Iraqis have been killed.

    "The intensity of interest is different than it was before the war began," said Bill Dobbs of United For Peace and Justice. "For months, there has been a quiet vindication of our position, but we still need to send a clear message against Bush policies."

    A spokesman for another activist organization, Campaign to Demilitarize the Police, said it planned monthly demonstrations through the convention to highlight police conduct at rallies.

    Last week, 52 anti-war protesters sued the New York Police Department and said officers unlawfully arrested peaceful protesters and detained them for up to 12 hours after an April 7, 2003, rally, only to dismiss all the charges.


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