More than 2,000 people packed Washington Square for a peace and human-rights rally hosted by former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson Wednesday night.
The rally is organized in response to the visit by President George W. Bush, who is in Utah today and tomorrow for fundraisers. Another, lower-key rally was held in Park City and attended by more than 100 people.
Anderson, who as mayor led protests against the Bush administration during the president' previous two visits to Salt Lake City, called for an end to "a disastrous war, deceit, domestic spying, illegal kidnapping and torture and violations of the Constitution."
Attendees at the rally in Salt Lake are strongly opposed to the president, especially the War in Iraq. A sampling of signs demonstrated that opposition, with such phrases as "Indict Bush," "End Needless War" and "War is Not the Answer."
They were also vocal in their opposition.
"It's a crime," said Chanse Frenette, a student at the University of Utah. "We should have never gone to war to begin with."
Frenette, who was holding a sign reading "SLC Loves Rocky," said the former Salt Lake City mayor is the voice of Utah.
"We love Rocky and everything he does," Frenette said. "He's the only voice we have here in Utah."
The rally at the City-County Building was the biggest of three anti-Bush events planned this evening. Across the street at the Main Library, Moveon.org is hosting a trivia quiz where contestants are asked to differentiate between quotes from Bush and . The event is actually one of 300-plus identical activities around the country tonight, and is only coincidental to the visit by Bush.
In Park City, around 100 people gathered for the "Bush Bash Barbecue" at the city park. Billed by organizers as family-friendly and much more low-key, it proved to be as much, with people eating free hot dogs and listening to singers on a small stage.
"I guess you didn't have the $70,000 to go to the party around the corner," said singer Jeff Howry, referencing the fundraiser at Romney's house. "I wouldn't go to that party if they paid me $70,000."
As opposed to the Salt Lake rally, this bash was more like a neighborhood party, and one organizer even insisted that it was not anti-Bush. John Staffholt said the barbecue was meant to celebrate Bush's arrival in town, not to protest his presidency.
"It's a bash that doesn't have to be bad," Staffholt said.
But the majority of the folks on the lawn at Park City Park were anti-Bush, with some of them carrying signs protesting his presidency. One attendee even went so far to say she wished somebody would "knock (Bush) off already."
Carol Silverman said she had a fantasy that Bush was assassinated, then vice president Dick Cheney died of a heart attack, then former House speaker Dennis Hastert died, clearing the path for Colin Powell to become president.
"With all the crazy people with guns, I can't believe nobody got to him," said Silverman, who lives in Scarsdale, N.Y., but owns a condo in Park City. "It's just too bad he's still president."