When President Bush comes to town, people have to change plans, quickly. That's what happened in Fayetteville on July 4 when W made his third trip as commander-in-chief to this Army town to promote his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Without much lead time, Triangle Code Pink member Allyson Caison of Selma e-mailed Fayetteville peace activist Lou Plummer to say Caison and her husband, Walt, were coming to protest Bush.
"That shamed me into doing something," said Plummer, an Army National Guard veteran who is a member of Military Families Speak Out and the Bring Them Home Now! campaign.
Plummer got a permit for a protest at downtown Fayetteville's Slave Market, far from Bush's closed Fort Bragg speech.
Plummer invited folks to read aloud the names of close to 800 GIs killed in the war since the last time Bush was in town a year ago.
Bush's visit also affected lots of soldiers who would normally be given a long holiday weekend, but had to stay in town to help prep for the visit. One of Plummer's friends, who is being deployed to Iraq on Aug. 1, had to cancel his vacation plans with his wife.
The low-key vigil turned intense when a sergeant in uniform started screaming from the window as he eased his pickup truck slowly around the traffic circle that surrounds the Slave Market. Slamming the truck into park, the guy got out and went off on Caison because she was holding a modified U.S. flag that included a peace sign in place of the stars.
"Every time you do this, you're killing soldiers," he screamed. When Fayetteville police officer J. Lamboy told him to move his truck, the GI yelled at Lamboy to arrest the protesters for treason.
"I want all of you to die just like those piece of shit Iraqis," he said as he drove around the circle a few more times. Finally, Lamboy pulled him over, saying the protesters had a right to be there.
Lamboy, however, was far from sympathetic, telling Plummer: "Your cause is causing a lot of people hardship."
Cary activist Andy Silver lamented the turnout of about 60 people.
"I do wish that people would give a higher priority to showing up where news happens," Silver wrote in an e-mail afterward.
But Caison was satisfied: "I thought it was great. It's the Fourth of July, short notice, people had plans. Sixty people came out. I was pleased."