Thursday, February 24, 2005
Above are photos from demonstrations yesterday that greeted Bush in Mainz, a town on the Rhine, which apparently were fairly large: the UK Times says there were 4,000 protesters, the Mail & Guardian says 5,000, the Independent says 7,000, and Deutsche Welle says 4,000 to 12,000 -- a fair size given that the population of the town is only about 300,000.
Little Mainz was given the full .. um .. security treatment. According to the Financial Times manholes along Bush's route were welded shut, garages were emptied and mailboxes were removed, driving and parking in the zone were forbidden, and people were even asked not to look at the motorcade:
In a contemporary echo of the Lady Godiva legend, anyone living on the route of the presidential motorcade is being discouraged from taking a peek at the 60 to 80-strong column of vehicles conveying the US president. In police leaflets, residents have been asked to keep their windows shut and stay clear of balconies "to avoid misunderstandings".
The organizers of the protests say the choice of Mainz revealed the success of the protests in Berlin that greeted Bush in 2002; the 2002 protests drew an estimated 100,000. Bush spokespeople deny that Mainz was chosen because the administration feared the response Bush would receive in Berlin; rather, they say, Mainz was chosen because of its "cozy atmosphere", according to the Washington Times,
The extreme measures have prompted a sort of triumphal boasting by anti-American protesters who turned out in force when Mr. Bush visited the German capital of Berlin in May 2002.
"He doesn't dare to visit Berlin again," says a posting on the Web site Bushinmainz.de, which is being used to organize protests during this week's visit.
"Mainz was chosen because of its cozy atmosphere. This shows that our protest in Berlin in 2002 was not in vain," the protesters brag on another Web site, notwelcomebush.de.
which explains this sign:
[Photos via German Indymedia]