Sacramento State Students Protest President Bush’s Visit

JESSICA WEIDLING
State Hornet
Sacramento State University

Javier Villegas, Sacramento State English major, held a sign picturing his brother in military uniform to protest President George W. Bush at the California Fuel Cell Partnership in West Sacramento on April 22.

Villegas who was accompanied by two other Sac State students and about 1,500 protestors, according to police, said he was protesting Bush’s policy on the Iraq War.

Villegas said his brother has already served a year in Baghdad and has just been summoned to return for a second tour. Villegas said the protest is personal for he fears for his brother’s life.

Villegas’ sister, Maira Villegas, sociology junior, said she thought the protest’s turnout was large, but that there weren’t a lot of young people present at the midday event. She said she thinks the reason is that Bush’s international policies don’t directly affect college students _” they can choose to remain apathetic because they aren’t subject to a military draft.

“I think people our age need to wake up and take more of a political stance,” Maira Villegas said.

Police put an eighth of a mile buffer between protesters and the energy facility where Bush toured and held a press conference, forcing the picketers to line the intersection of Beacon and Industrial boulevards.

There were about a dozen individuals out in support of Bush, most of them waving red, white and blue American flags as a sign of patriotism.

The protesting group, who chanted “Bush step down” stayed on the site for several hours, with some wearing stickers, waving flags and holding signs painted with phrases stating “Bush is lying and troops are dying” and “Plant a tree, kill a bush.”

Some protesters, like Maggie Hawkins, anthropology junior, felt it was important to speak out against Bush’s visit to the energy facility because the environment has never been one of his main policy concerns, she said.

“It’s hypocritical for him to be out supporting alternative fuel,” Hawkins said.

At Bush’s press conference he said hydrogen-powered cars are not just a “foolish dream,” but a “reality that’s come true.”

As a part of his Earth Day visit, Bush visited with Ford Motor Co. employees and received a tour of the facility where he was shown a zero-emission commuter bus powered by hydrogen fuel.

Also from Sac State was students Robert Young, KSSU assistant manager, and Melissa Maxwell, KSSU manager.

Young, a communications video major, who has been at KSSU for three years, said he was at the event protesting the recent U.S. House of Representatives immigration bill now making its way through the Senate. As a Mexican American, Young said the immigration issue hits home and said the legislation will affect a lot of students in California one way or another.

“Mexican people have a positive impact on the economy,” Young said. “They (the administration) tend to overlook that.”

Maxwell, a senior communications major, said she is against Bush’s policy of using fear for coercion. Maxwell’s sign read: “A terrorist uses fear to control, and so does Bush.” Maxwell said she heard about the protest from Air America, the local progressive radio station, and was disappointed that more Sac State students didn’t come out to express their feelings on the issues.

“I think students are a lot more apathetic than they used to be,” Maxwell said.

Justin Mary, psychology junior, said he when he toured Europe and participated in the U.S. election protests, he was surprised at how often Europeans stage demonstrations.

“Our kids have been taught that the government machine can’t be changed,” he said. Mary said he hopes young people will realize that speaking out can catalyze change.