While thousands flocked to hear President Bush speak at Monticello on Friday morning, Dana Palmer stood by the side of Route 20 dressed like Lady Liberty to teach her kids a lesson in free speech.
Palmer, her husband and their two children were among more than 100 people to protest Bush's visit to Monticello with homemade signs, costumes, expressive T-shirts and their voices.
Palmer wore bright green robes, a foam crown and had her face painted white to represent "the death of liberty," while her husband, dressed in black, was "Darth Cheney." Palmer, a Charlottesville resident, brought her son and daughter to see the First Amendment in action. "What better thing can I teach them about free speech than bringing them out here to show them free speech?" she said.
Protesters started arriving around 6 a.m. in Quarry Park, a mile from the Monticello Visitor's Center, and their numbers grew through the morning.
The earliest to arrive stood at the entrance to Quarry Road on Route 20, but moved nearer the visitors' center to make their views known to drivers, bus passengers going to the naturalization ceremony and eventually Bush's motorcade.
Most people held up signs of their own creation with messages including, "Healthcare Not Warfare," "Save The Bill of Rights" and "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"[..]
The protesters included members of CODE PINK Women for Peace, the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Charlottesville Democratic Party, and Web sites moveon.org and afterdowningstreet.org.
Sarah Lanzman, an organizer and Center for Peace member, said the protest was about protecting the Constitution from what she described as attacks by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
"We don't want to hurt the ceremony for the new immigrants," Lanzman said. "We just want to state our constitutional right that someone who has destroyed our Constitution should not be at the home of a president who initiated it. ... That seems very disrespectful to the memory of Thomas Jefferson."