The Star-Ledger

Scant Seconds To Unleash Years Of Anti-War Anger

The Star-Ledger — Thursday, May 31, 2007

Star-Ledger Staff

President Bush's motorcade never slowed as it passed 100 anti-war demonstrators in Edison yesterday, but the protesters still said their efforts were worth it.

They screamed "Impeach" and booed the president's car as it whizzed by and into Raritan Center. The brief encounter culminated a three-hour rally during which protesters denounced Bush's domestic agenda and his continuation of the war in Iraq.

"It's always worth it if you can show your displeasure and disassociate yourself from a criminal regime," said Bennet Zurofsky, a Newark civil rights attorney who led the crowd in anti-war versions of old folk songs.

NJ Citizen Action organized the event, which at its onset attracted more than 150 environmentalists, labor leaders, veterans and other activists from across the state. High-ranking state Democratic Party officials also made their voices heard, creating a rally that was partly a political bashing of Republican ideals and partly an anti-war demonstration. By the time the president's motorcade arrived, however, the afternoon heat had thinned the crowd by at least a third.

Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), who is also the state Democratic chairman, kicked off the speeches, blasting Bush as arrogant. U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) followed, questioning how the Republican members of the New Jersey's congressional delegation can support the president's war policies when he said 70 percent of the voters favoring a timetable for troop withdrawal from war in the Mideast.

State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) directed her comments at the state GOP.

"It's pretty rough that the Republicans turn to George Bush for help," Buono told the crowd. "How desperate is that?"

The demonstrators followed Edison Mayor Jun Choi's invitation to leave the gravel lot where the rally began to participate in a "peaceful protest march" to the intersection of Raritan Center Parkway and King Georges Post Road, about 100 yards away.

The move was encouraged by Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of Citizen Action, who had been annoyed that the Secret Service assigned the demonstrators to a spot nearly two miles from the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, where the president was appearing.

Choi assured the demonstrators Edison police would not interfere if they stayed on the public access portion of the road. They gathered at the corner and their enthusiasm kept high with constant chants, like, "We Don't Belong in Iraq, So Bring the Troops Back." Student activists climbed to the top of a red-white-and-blue painted bus Andy Coleman drove up from Spring Lake Heights for the rally.

Coleman, an environmentalist, said that since 2004 he has used the bus at rallies to promote his views. "The people of New Jersey see through the lies." he said. "We think George Bush should go back to Texas."

Anna Berlinrut of South Orange, whose 25-year-old son is a Marine reservist who completed two deployments to Iraq, said, "We want (Bush) to understand the people of America had enough of a war based on lies."

Gail Brandow of Middletown brought her two daughters, Valerie, 20, and Vanessa, 17, and their friend, Diana Gundacker, 21, to the rally. The night before they had hand-painted a T-shirt with an anti-war message. "We're glad we're able to get this close," Brandow said as they waited on the corner for the motorcade.

They held their peace signs high as the cars went by. "It's worth it." Vanessa said. "Anything to try to get this attention."

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