We Brave Enough to Be a Democracy?
September 6, 2002
By Peter Buckley
45 years old, have three kids, my wife and I work full time
jobs, we own our home and pay taxes, and I'm the Democratic
candidate for Congress in Oregon's District Two.
On Thursday, August 22, I went to Central Point, Oregon,
to express my opposition to the current policies of our government.
I was placed in a dirt compound behind a six foot cyclone
fence and had the gate shut in my face.
The occasion was a visit from President George W. Bush to
the district I am a candidate in. Mr. Bush was scheduled to
speak to 5000 invited guests. The guests were all people in
agreement with the current policies of our government. They
were invited for that very reason. They were politely ushered
into the arena where Mr. Bush's speech was to be given. The
people in opposition to the current policies of our government
were ushered by the police into a dirt compound behind a six
foot cyclone fence.
I have to say that I had a very hard time believing this
was actually happening. This is not the America I believe
in, am working for and want to leave to my sons.
I wasn't alone behind the fence. There were several hundred
of us. There were a good number of young activists, of course,
who were protesting Mr. Bush's very sorry record on environmental
issues. But there were also a good number of senior citizens
and middle aged folks like me who simply wished to state our
opposition to Mr. Bush's economic policies that are doing
so much damage to our country, or our opposition to his lust
for war with Iraq. We were crammed together in the dirt behind
the fence, with the temperatures rising and no possible way
to express our views.
We tried to discuss the situation with the young cop who
was on the other side of the gate. He had his orders, we understood
that, and he kept repeating that we had to be behind the fence
for the president's security.
The arena in which Mr. Bush was to speak was well over 200
yards away. Riot police stood a few dozen yards away from
our compound, spread a few feet apart, nightsticks and tear
gas guns in their hands. I looked around our compound and
at the woman in her early 70s standing next to me. I didn't
feel particularly dangerous at the moment, and I couldn't
see anyone else who looked particularly dangerous, either.
We simply did not and do not agree with the current policies
of our government and wished to express our opposition.
We were not to be allowed to. We were not to be allowed anywhere
near any kind of position where the president, or the media
which follows him, would see or hear us.
This is not America. This is not the land of the free and
the home of the brave. This is some other country. I'm a patriotic
American. I want the country I was raised to believe in, a
country strong enough for political discourse and debate,
with leaders courageous and decent enough to have the willingness
to listen to all citizens, not just those who parrot their
We're moving in the wrong direction, it's as simple as that.
What happened in Central Point, and what is happening everywhere
Mr. Bush goes, is wrong. The effort being made to hide political
opposition in this country is more than cowardly. It's un-American.