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Naked protesters bare opinions against Bush

By Dan O'Brien, Collegian

The air was brisk yesterday at the Amherst Town Common, but that did not stop 16 people from removing their clothes to protest the presidential administration and the war in Iraq.

The protest, termed the "Naked Anti-Bush Demonstration," was a grassroots effort by people in the Five College area to stand against the policies of President Bush's administration.

Samantha Goldman and Usher Shrair are students at Mt. Holyoke College and members of the World Can't Wait group, which strongly opposes the Bush administration. The two women were the main speakers at the event, which mostly focused on the United States occupation in Iraq and the Christian ideologies of the administration.

"People are outraged, especially the women are outraged, that their rights have been taken away from them by Christian fascists," Goldman said.

At one point, Shrair rallied up the crowd by chanting phrases such as "We want Bush out!" to the sound of cheers.

The rally began around 12:30 p.m. when approximately 100 protestors lined North Pleasant Street holding signs, waving to passing cars, and chanting catchy phrases such as "Move, Bush, get out the way!" in reference to a popular song by rapper Ludacris.

The protestors moved to the Common grass a short time later, where several people from various organizations spoke their thoughts on the current administration.

"Do we have to put a stop to another f---ing war?" exclaimed one Amherst resident when she took the microphone. "We can put a stop to this, but we have to take it to the streets."

Goldman pointed out to the crowd that several students from Amherst Regional High School skipped class, while other participants skipped work to attend the protest.

"The principal and teachers [at Amherst Regional High School] blocked doors so you all couldn't come, but you're all here!" Goldman said with excitement.

The protest group included students from each of the schools in the local Five College network. Several students explained that the war, the environment, and the way the U. S. government affiliates itself with countries that conduct human rights violations are prime reasons for the protest.

"The Bush regime in particular is taking steps that we've never seen before," said Ana Gordon-Lobel, a first year student at Hampshire College. "He's rounding up and detaining Arabs, Muslims and South Asians and keeping them in detention camps."

"Your government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule. Your government suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price," Goldman said.

After an hour of speeches, poetry and music, it was time to get naked.

Goldman explained that getting nude was a "personal decision," and "not the focus" of the protest. Shrair hoped that at least 30 people would remove their clothes to spell out the words "No Bush," with their bodies. However, only 16 people chose to protest nude, and the phrase had to be changed to "No W."

"Make sure you separate the 'o' and 'w' with enough space so that it doesn't spell out 'now,'" Goldman told the protestors.

The air was increasingly chilly throughout the protest, and the temperature hovered around 50 degrees Fahrenheit when the protestors removed their clothes.

Apryl Sabadosa, a UMass student, said she got naked because "this war is B.S."

"There's too many unjust things happening and we need to put a stop to it. And it sounded like a good idea to get attention and bring the attention to us," Sabadosa said.

Even some of the ARHS students added to the naked statement.

"I felt like there was a lot of pressure on me. Protest the war and break free of social constraints," said Shyam Khanna, an ARHS student.




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