Thursday, September 15, 2005

Media, Protesters Kept Away from ‘Freedom Walk’

by Brendan Coyne, NewStandard

Sep 12 - Yesterday's Pentagon-sponsored September 11 memorial walk and concert was billed as a "Freedom Walk," but the news media and people who desired to speak out against the Bush administration were restricted to small areas, mainly away from the day's events. Restrictions also extended to participants, all attendees had to register by Friday evening and were subject to search upon arrival.

The Defense Department claimed that over 13,000 people attended the event, Stars & Stripes reports. They marched along a two mile route lined by US Park Police and fencing, according to the military newspaper.

Hundreds of protesters also attended, mostly corralled near the end of the route. Park Police prevented reporters from speaking with the group, Stars & Stripes said.

Friday, the Washington Post reported that the entire Washington, DC contingent of the Park Police would be handling event security.

In addition to keeping protesters from interacting with marchers, security kept reporters limited to three separate areas.

Critics of the event -- which was billed as a memorial for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks as well as a march to support American troops -- charged that it was designed to tie the September 11 attacks to the war on Iraq.

Additional criticism came from privacy advocates who questioned the Pentagon's original registration requirements as intrusive. The policy was slightly altered shortly after a NewStandard reporter inquired why registrants were to supply their mailing addresses and other information in order to participate.

A group of anti-war protesters participated in the walk. They wore anti-war imagery, but did not disrupt the march, the Associated Press reports.

© 2005 The NewStandard.

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