Thousands of Germans March to Protest Bush Visit
by Rhea Wessel
Demonstrators pulled a float portraying a prisoner being beaten at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison through the German city of Mainz on Wednesday, part of a protest by several thousand people against visiting United States President George Bush
A demonstrator waves a peace-flag during a protest rally against the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush in Mainz, western Germany, on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)
The float featured a woman in military fatigues whipping a "prisoner" in an orange jumpsuit -- a replication of abuse by US troops at the Baghdad prison. Also among the marchers were four people in brown cow costumes bearing a sign: "We don't need you, cowboy."
Police said about 5 000 people turned out for the rally and parade through the streets of Mainz. Riot police in body armour kept a close watch, with a helicopter hovering overhead and officers passing out leaflets asking people to express their views peacefully.
The route kept the protesters well away from the city's Baroque palace where Bush met German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. But it did take them past the home of a supporter who opened a window and began tossing baked pretzels to the marchers as they passed, rock music blaring from the apartment.
Maximillian Weizel (16) showed up with 10 classmates after their high school cancelled classes because of Bush's visit.
"Bush has messed up," he said, adding that he disagrees with "Bush's list of regimes he wants to overthrow".
The protesters carried placards reading: "We don't want your kind of peace", "Where Bush is, there's war", "World's number 1 terrorist" and "Wanted dead or alive -- George 'Dubya' Bush and his band of congressmen".
Margret Koehler-Gutsch (68) held a sign that said: "God bless America -- with reason."
"The majority of Americans who voted Bush into office and talk about God should read the Ten Commandments," she said. "They should remember that the commandments say, 'Thou shalt not kill,' and that people should love their neighbours."
"I cannot understand how someone can say they are acting in God's will and then wage war," she added. "It's perverse."
The demonstration was organised by an association of about 50 anti-war, environmental and anti-globalisation groups that came together under the name Not Welcome Bush.