President Bush is coming to town, and Rocky Anderson is ready.
The former Salt Lake City mayor and ever-vocal critic of the Bush administration has organized a rally for peace and human rights for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday on the west side of the Salt Lake City-County Building, 451 S. State.
During the hourlong event, Anderson and other peace and human rights advocates will be calling on Utahns to continue to speak out against the Bush administration and the "egregious human rights violations that continue to occur," he said.
"This is not a partisan gathering," Anderson said in an interview Friday. "This is a gathering of people of conscience, raising their voices to communicate that we will not accept the immorality of torturing and kidnapping people around the world; that we insist on the rule of law; and that we will not stand idly by as the president acts in contravention of our Constitution, domestic laws and treaty obligations."
Anderson will be joined at the rally by Daniel Ellsberg, the whistle-blower who in 1971 leaked to newspapers classified documents known as the Pentagon Papers, which revealed information about casualties in the Vietnam War.
"To me, (Ellsberg) is our generation's greatest voice of conscience," Anderson said.
In 2004, Ellsberg started the Truth-Telling Project, urging past and present government officials to reveal to Congress and the public the truth about governmental wrongdoings, lies and cover-ups. He recently has been calling on whistle-blowers to come forward with any information about possible plans of the Bush administration to attack Iran.
Anderson said too many Americans have become complacent and have let their voices fade in the call for an end to the Iraq war and illegal acts by the Bush administration.
"Their focus is on a new election," he said, "and they think this administration is irrelevant. But there is so much damage that can still occur. ... By all appearances, it looks like they're gearing up to attack Iran."
Anderson has spoken out against Bush during two previous Utah visits by the president both while serving as mayor of Salt Lake City.
On Aug. 22, 2005, he spoke at a rally protesting Bush's visit to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A year later, Anderson spoke at a protest when the president was in town to speak to the American Legion.
Anderson's successor and fellow Democrat, Mayor Ralph Becker, also has stated his opposition to the war and acts of the Bush administration. Becker, however, has no plans to participate in any anti-war rallies or protests during the president's visit.
Bush will be in Utah on Wednesday to appear at fundraisers for presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain in Salt Lake City and Deer Valley. He is expected to meet with the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday.
Becker spokeswoman Helen Langan said the mayor has not received any invitations to meet with the president or attend any of the fundraising events. If he is invited, the mayor will "try to find room in his schedule," Langan said.
Also speaking at the peace and human rights rally will be Marshall Thompson, an Iraq veteran and peace activist who walked the entire state of Utah calling for withdrawal from Iraq; and Kathy Snyder, a Utah mother of a serviceman who was killed in Iraq.
Another protest is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday outside the Salt Lake City Library, 210 E. 400 South. The grassroots group MoveOn.org will host the Bush-McCain Challenge, asking voters to try to tell the difference between the policy positions and statements of Bush and Sen. McCain, R-Ariz.
MoveOn members say it's a new twist on the old Pepsi-Coke challenge.For more information about the peace and human rights rally or to make a financial contribution for the event, visit www.peaceandhumanrights.com.
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