More than 500 protest Obama's arrival - East Valley Tribune: News

More than 500 protest Obama's arrival

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Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 9:16 am | Updated: 2:50 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Presidential protesters made their voices heard in chants and signs Wednesday outside Dobson High School.

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The protesters, about 500 to 600 strong and growing, began arriving as ticket holders walked in.

Mesa police set up a protest area along Guadalupe Road.

They held their signs up high: "Don't tread on me," "Spend all you want, I'll pick up the tab," "I'll keep my freedom! You keep the change!" "Free fertility drugs now." And "B.O. smells and so does Socialism."

A Gilbert woman, with a sign that said, "Fund bikini wax now," said she is entitled to the beauty treatment.

"It's a self-esteem issue and hygiene issue, which makes it a health care issue. I think we're all entitled," said the woman in jest. She only gave the name JoAnne, because she is skipping work.

Critics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio showed up in force, as well.

At one point about 15 members of Somos America, in striped jail garb and linked by chains, marched passed the presidential protesters. Those protesters responded with chants: "We love Joe!"

Rob McElwain, spokesman for Somos, said they want an end to laws that allow local police to enforce immigration laws, an end to Arpaio's immigration sweeps and a federal investigation into Arpaio.

The Mesa Police Department stationed four neutral observers outside the school, including Phil Austin, former president of the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens.

Austin said things went smoothly, except for a few vendors trying to sell goods without a permit.

As protesters held their signs high, they exchanged cheers with the honking cars that passed.

The general message of the protesters was that Obama's policies would lead the country toward socialism.

"I'm out here to exercise my First Amendment rights while I still have them," said Tim Guiney, 52, a Phoenix sales manager. "Everything that man stands for is the antithesis of what this country was founded on. He's a Marxist, fascist."

Lee Bauer, 53, a social and fiscal conservative, said she doesn't believe in the $787 billion stimulus package signed by Obama Tuesday in Denver.

"Obama's stimulus package has only mobilized the opposition," she said.

Former Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth of Arizona also was in attendance.

He called the bill a "trillion-dollar boondoggle."

A man shouted over a megaphone, "I want to see if the president is driving a (Toyota) Prius or an electric car."

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