Protesters turn out early for Bush center dedication

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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UNIVERSITY PARK - Days before the dedication for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, activists are arriving in Dallas to call attention to the event.

On Monday, a small group of protesters gathered not far from the presidential center site on the edges of the Southern Methodist University campus, waving signs and calling for justice.

"This is an historic event and we wanted to make sure that we are here standing on the street, adding our voice to what will come out of the events at the Bush library," said Hadi Jawad, an activist with the Dallas Peace Center who is among the protesters at the presidential center this week. "We believe that George W. Bush and [former Vice President] Dick Cheney, in the war ... against Iraq, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity and must be held to account.

"... That is the only way forward. That is the right thing for us to do. We are a nation of laws. There is nobody in this country who is above the law."

On Thursday, there will be a formal dedication ceremony for the $250 million George W. Bush Presidential Center - a three-story, 226,565-square-foot complex that includes a library, museum and institute - on the edges of Southern Methodist University in University Park.

A crowd of thousands of dignitaries, world leaders, family and friends - and the "world's most exclusive club," of President Barack Obama and the four living ex-presidents - will attend the 11/2 hour invitation-only ceremony honoring the country's 43rd president. The center will open to the public May 1.

This week, protesters from around the country are joining together as "The People's Response" for several days worth of rallies, marches and other events to make their voices heard.

They began Monday morning, standing on a grassy area on a frontage road off North Central Expressway, within sight of the Bush center, carrying signs with messages such as "Arrest Bush" and "Torture = Crime" and conducting a brief news conference.

"Many of us came to say, 'Shame,'" said Jodie Evans, co-founder of the anti-war group Code Pink. "We are appalled that people would be celebrating someone who has done so much damage.

"We are here to witness it and shine a light on it."

Former diplomat and retired Army Col. Ann Wright and other protesters gathered near the presidential center Monday.

The 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserve, who resigned her diplomatic post 10 years ago to protest the Iraq war, spoke to the crowd, saying it's important to make sure that everyone is accountable for his or her actions.

"Even though President Bush's library is opening, we should be holding him accountable for what he's done," Wright said. "President Bush, Cheney and [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld should be held accountable in a court of law for what they've done."

But Wright said Bush isn't the only president she's trying to hold accountable.

She said she's also focusing on President Barack Obama, who she said is continuing policies and procedures that were in place under Bush.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley

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