By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“This is what these Muslims did!” Hayes screamed. “This is what these Iraqis did to our generous men! We will make sure that Hollywood never treats our president the way it has this week!”
A gleam lit his eyes when he spotted John Boehm of Burbank, a lone peace activist holding a sign reading “Bush Betrays USA.” Hayes stepped to within a few inches of the man and shrieked into the bullhorn, “How dare you stand here with your peace sign, how dare you join this communist-sponsored demonstration when your fellow Americans are being killed in Iraq!”
Hayes uncorked a torrent of invective against Boehm, who stood stock still. The crowd was getting whipped into a frenzy and for a brief, ugly moment it seemed that they might attack the demonstrator in their midst.
Then, suddenly, Hayes offered his hand.
“Peace, my brother,” Hayes said calmly. “Shake my hand. We’re Americans, shake my hand. You have a right to be here. Shake my hand.”
After a moment Boehm tenuously accepted the hand of Hayes, who, finished with his little performance, then turned away and spoke to reporters. Unfortunately, a few bullies he had fired up continued to shout at Boehm. One of the pro-wars, a Huntington Beach man who was holding American and Israeli flags, began shoving Boehm until some bystanders insisted he stop. Yet the man returned moments later and pushed Boehm off to the edge of the perimeter, egged on by people shouting, “Buh-bye! Buh-bye!”
The peace rally’s permit expired at 6 p.m., and the police responded by forcefully sweeping the Sunset site, clubbing several demonstrators in the process. By about 6:30 the last sizable group of milling protesters had been corralled by police into the residential intersection of Orange and Willoughby. Following the third command to disperse, about 100 young people reluctantly filed through gaps in the police lines and into the night, some heading to Sunset and La Brea, where the protest would eventually ember out. After about 15 minutes one lone man, called Direct, was left — arrested, I was told by his friends, for using a bullhorn. (A Sergeant D. Galindo told me Direct had been detained for failure to disperse.) He stood in the middle of Willoughby Avenue, forlorn and with his hands bound behind his back, while an undercover cop dressed in ski-cap-and-sweatshirt slacker attire watched nearby.
All the security precautions — street closures, spike strips, body searches, rooftop sharpshooters — must have paid off, because no terrorists seized the Kodak that night. The evening’s TV news shows mentioned Michael Moore’s denunciation of Bush and the war, but very few dared quote from his bold remarks. Instead, the news anchors presented their hollow mix of entertainment and Pentagon-sponsored war reporting, even as an unbridgeable gap widened in the American conversation, much like the gulf between the two sides on Hollywood Boulevard.