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Protests Greet Bush At MLK Tomb

Hundreds of people pushed past Secret Service barricades Thursday to protest President George W. Bush's visit to the tomb of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on what would have been the civil rights leader's 75th birthday.

Two people were arrested as the protesters pushed toward the street in front of King's tomb, abandoning a designated area several hundred yards away.

Authorities responded by parking three city buses on the street to block the protesters from the president's motorcade.

As Bush arrived, the crowd — estimated by police at about 700 — booed and chanted "Bush go home!" Some protesters pounded on the sides of the buses, but no one was injured and the crowd dispersed soon after the president's 15-minute stop.

Bush's visit to observe King's birthday upset some civil rights activists who said the president's policies on Iraq, affirmative action and funding for social services conflict with King's legacy. They also complained that the scheduling conflicted with their own plans to honor King.

"We believe that this is purely, purely political, that this particular visit is more to do with fundraising," Reverend Timothy McDonald told CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante.

"It is an insult to those of us who are committed to justice. It is an insult to those of us who believe in the life and legacy of Dr. King," he said.

Bush placed a wreath on King's grave before heading to a $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser in Atlanta.

Beating drums and chanting, "In 2004, Bush no more," protesters marched in circles near the tomb. Some held signs that displayed King's image and read, "War is not the answer."

"When I heard Bush was coming here I couldn't believe it. I was outraged and disgusted, and I just think it's a photo op. It's so transparent," said Kathy Nicholas, a flight attendant from Atlanta.

The protesters who were arrested had stepped into the street and refused to move, police said.

Officials at the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the organization founded by King's widow, said they extended no formal invitation to Bush but accepted his offer to come.

"Out of respect for that office and out of respect for Dr. King, he's coming," said Lynn Cothren, an assistant to Coretta Scott King.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president's visit was a way to pay tribute to "Dr. King's legacy, his vision and his lifetime of service."

"This is a way to honor a lifetime dedicated to fighting for equal opportunity and equal justice for all people," he said.

King's widow declined to comment on Bush's visit but has been vocal about her opposition to the war in Iraq.

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