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Demonstrators march in Kennebunkport to protest Bush, Putin
By David Sharp, Associated Press
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine --Hundreds of demonstrators calling for the impeachment of President Bush marched Sunday to within a half mile of the site of the summit between Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Protesters chanting "impeach, impeach, impeach" pulled a wagon with a 7-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty in a coffin, representing the perceived loss of liberties under the Bush administration.
Several demonstrators wearing orange jumpsuits, like those worn by detainees at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, kneeled on the ground. Moments later, the demonstrators held a ceremony in which Lady Liberty was brought back to life.
A crowd estimated by police at 1,700 criticized both world leaders -- Bush for the war in Iraq and Putin for his hard line in the breakaway region of Chechnya.
The event was largely peaceful, but two demonstrators who insisted on crossing a police line were arrested.
"I pay taxes. I can walk on the street if I want to," said one of the protesters, Lynn Curit-Smith of Portland, before crossing the line while being cheered by other demonstrators.
The protest began in the morning at the Village Green, a park not far from the center of town with its many tourist shops.
The demonstration was organized by two groups, the Kennebunk Peace Department and the Maine Campaign to Impeach. But demonstrators represented a wide variety of causes and sought to focus attention on issues that included corporate greed and global warming.
The event featured music and speeches before demonstrators and a small marching band paraded down Ocean Avenue toward the Bush summer home at Walker's Point. Putin wasn't scheduled to arrive until after the march was completed.
Included in the demonstration was a rolling memorial for Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo, who was 20 when he was killed in Iraq on Aug. 25, 2004. His father's pickup truck had a flag-draped coffin with Arredondo's boots and camouflage shirt bearing a purple heart.
A sign next to the memorial said, "If you support this war, send a member of your family to fight in it."
"This is my pain. This is my loss," said Carlos Arrerondo, who immigrated to Massachusetts from Costa Rica in 1980. "It helps to share with others what we're going through."
While marching down Ocean Avenue, the group encountered a couple of dozen counter-demonstrators waving signs in support of Bush. One of them jumped into the parade and shouted slogans, including "liars, liars, liars," as the group arrived at the police checkpoint.
Before the march, Jamilla El-Shafei, one of the organizers, said Bush and Putin have inflamed tensions that are already running high in the Muslim world.
"We want the troops home now. We want permanent bases out of Iraq. And we want to hold Bush and (Vice President) Cheney accountable for deceiving the people into an immoral and unjust war, for mutilation of the Constitution and the evisceration of habeas corpus," she said.
The demonstrators' main target was Bush, whose unpopular policy in Iraq has come under widespread and growing criticism.
But some protesters didn't spare his guest, Putin, who came into office as the Chechnya conflict was flaring. Critics have accused him of human rights violations in suppressing mostly Muslim, separatist rebels in the breakaway region.
Victoria Poupko, who moved from Moscow to Boston 17 years ago, said Bush and Putin are "both criminals" for torture, war crimes and abuse of power, among other things.
She carried a sign that said, "Stop imperialism. Bush out of Iraq. Putin out of Chechnya."
"Withdraw from Chechnya, let them have their independence," she said.
Bush arrived in Kennebunkport on Thursday at the seaside home that has been in the Bush family for a century. His father, former President George H.W. Bush, has spent at least part of every summer since childhood here except when he served in the Navy during World War II.
Putin planned to spend the night at the home before both leaders' departure on Monday, less than 24 hours later.