Warring protests in Carson City
Appeal Staff Writer
On a day when President Bush made a surprise trip to Iraq, downtown Carson City became a regional battleground for two disparate groups staging demonstrations in the name of patriotism – and those currently at war.
On the right, a “pro-troop caravan” rally at 9 a.m. in Mills Park was one of 27 rallies across the U.S. on Labor Day to support keeping troops in Iraq and “finishing the job.”
On the left, another decidedly “pro-troop” rally cropped up on the corner of Roop and William streets – the sometimes more ribald protesters waved and gestured to honking motorists.
The goal: To bring troops home, as soon as possible.
“I’m a Marine,” said Sparks resident Bud Guy, who was clad in a red Marines shirt and matching hat, holding an American flag on William Street. I want to see all the Marines get out of Iraq as quickly and as safely as possible, and I’ll do what I can.”
Reflective of a recent CNN poll showing 60 percent of Americans disapproval of the war in Iraq, Guy said his opinion on the war has changed over its four-and-a-half year course.
“I’m like a lot of people, I supported the war at the beginning,” said Guy, who served from 1961-65. “When we figured out the government had been lying to us consistently, that’s when I started to change my mind.
“Besides, didn’t we win? Didn’t the President declare, ‘Mission Accomplished’?”
Indeed, the protesters, 75 strong on Monday morning, shouted Bush’s fateful catch-phrase at jeering motorists and passersby.
For others, the mission is far from over:
Carson resident Dave Candia wore a shirt with an image of his cousin Carson resident Josh Rodgers, 29, an Army Chief Warrant Officer killed in Afghanistan on May 30.
His cousin’s death still fresh on his mind, Candia – at the Mills Park rally – said he and his family have “no choice” but to support “finishing what we started.”
“My cousin believed in what he was doing, he was a patriot,” Candia said. “There are a lot of people here who support what he did.
“I support his mission.”
One such supporter was Amber Sanchez, who traveled from Los Gatos, Calif., to support keeping troops overseas.
“I’m a patriot first,” she said. “We can’t leave it hanging over there, it’s a job that needs to be finished.
The two factions did not mingle until a handful of demonstrators in favor of pulling troops wandered over to the Mills Park rally. Some verbal barbs were traded between the two groups, but in the end, both sides said the on-going discussion is what their freedoms are about.
“We fight so people can continue to have their say,” Sanchez said.
“I supported this war back in 2003, but it shouldn’t go on this long,” said Las Vegas resident Mike Kelly. “Bush is in Iraq today -and that’s just for show. I don’t like seeing these kids come home without arms and legs. These are our kids, they’re working-class kids.
“We need to bring them home.”
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.