Friday, Oct. 15, 2004 | 9:46 a.m.
About 75 protesters greeted President Bush's motorcade as it raced through the intersection of Swenson Street and Tropicana Avenue on the way to the Thomas & Mack Center Thursday morning.
Two people dressed in black robes and skull masks hefted a mock coffin covered with an American flag, while shouts of, "Kerry, Kerry," rang out as the motorcade headed up Swenson and down into the tunnel entrance on the west side of the arena.
"If you're not outraged at what this administration is doing you're not paying attention," said Walter Burbuck, a 65-year-old retiree, who said he is angered by the president's position on the environment. "He calls his programs healthy forests and clear skies, and it's a joke.
"People don't really know what he is doing."
The protesters were made up of a range of people including union workers, senior citizens and students.
About 9:15 a.m. Metro Police shut down Swenson from the airport to the Thomas & Mack Center as well as Tropicana east and west of Swenson. About 9:30 a.m. the motorcade passed by the protesters.
Metro Police traffic officers estimated that some of the police motorcycles leading the motorcade may have been traveling as fast as 50 mph, while the rest of the procession, including the president's limo and the black sport utility vehicles crammed with Secret Service agents, were probably going about 35 miles an hour.
To John Abbott and other protesters the motorcade seemed to be moving faster, but they said they were confident that they got their point across.
"I've been at most of the president's visits, but he always sneaks in the back," said Abbott, a 59-year-old Vietnam veteran. "There really wasn't a back way he could go, so he had to show his face this time, and that was kind of satisfying."
Metro officers asked the protesters to stay on the sidewalk as the motorcade passed, and the protesters followed the instruction. No one was arrested, officers said.