Olin Fugit, a 61-year-old pipe fitter, has been in and out of work for the last four years.
“Because of outsourcing and little construction, about 90 members of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 562 are unemployed,” he said.
Fugit was one of about 75 protesters lined up along Coliseum Drive leading to the Boone County Fairgrounds before President Bush’s speech Tuesday. He held a pink sheet of paper resembling a notification of termination, which also cited “Bush’s failed economic leadership for Missouri” such as lost jobs and health insurance coverage, cuts in overtime pay and increases in college tuition.
Other protesters, objecting mostly to the war in Iraq, held signs reading “U.S. Out Now,” “End the Occupation,” “No More BU_ _ SH_ _,” and a sign in dripping red letters saying “Bush is bleeding the U.S.”
Mid-Missouri Peaceworks director Mark Haim said the country’s “launching of a war of aggression” is a war crime. “We’ve already lost 1,000 GIs and are responsible for the death of Iraqi civilians,” he said.
Other independent protesters and Boone County Democrats were eager to criticize Bush on Iraq.
“War-making breeds terror. We have to stop making people hate us. …. Kerry will heal the relationships with the world,” said Joan Wibbenmeyer, 49.
The economy was another hot topic among protesters, particularly accumulating war debt and lost jobs. The Missouri Democratic Party’s pink slips cited Bureau of Labor Statistics data that show Missourians lost 23,200 jobs in July.
Mickey Belosi, 56, of Jefferson City said her pay raises fail to keep pace with the cost of living, so she makes less money than she did three years ago. “I have less of a disposable income. I have to be more careful about the ways I spend my money now,” she said.
MU student Anne Marie Voepel protested loosening environmental restrictions, particularly concerning deforestation. “The proposal to ban the conservation rule will result in a loss of habitat and recreational backcounty,” she said. “Bush doesn’t care.”
Many Bush supporters taunted the protesters. “Flip, flop, flip, flop,” one woman yelled from her car, referring to the perception that Kerry changes his stance on issues.
“Go home,” other supporters yelled, followed by, “You’re a joke.”
The protesters seemed unfazed.
“I feel I should stand out here and make a difference,” Voepel said. “This is the first time I have felt strongly about an election.”