Taking It To The Streets

Political demonstrators from both the Democrat and Republican parties gather at the Supervisor of Elections office during the manual and machine recount of votes November 11, 2000.
AP
Protestors gathered in cities across the country to have their say about the incredibly close presidential election and the vote recount controversy in Florida.

In New York City, some 45 to 50 protestors turned up in Times Square on Saturday carrying placards and shouting slogans.

"I think they should have a recount in Florida. I think it's a total mess," said Kim Larson, one of the protesters.

CBS News Correspondent Jacqueline Adams reports their grass-roots effort was spawned on the Internet, literally overnight.

"This all started (Friday) afternoon and we already have all these people here," said Joe Katz, one of the protesters.

Across the country, the scene was similar, from Hartford to Dallas and west to Seattle. In Austin, Tex., about 500 demonstrators argued both sides of the presidential election stand-off outside the Texas governor's mansion and the Capitol.

Organizers claim they're not professional Democrats, but just modern-day patriots who feel this week's election results can't be trusted.

"Had the tables been reversed, you bet your life that the Republicans and Bush would have complained very, very vehemently," one protester said.

Demonstrators had little trouble getting signatures on their petition, but not every passerby shared their concerns.

"I think Al Gore should show a little class and concede. The people have spoken," said Joel Persky, who was not one of the protesters.

Friction between the two sides prompted the Texas Department of Public Safety to work to keep the protest peaceful and the demonstrators out of the streets.

A chanting line of Bush-Cheney supporters circling the governor's mansion increased their volume when near pro-Gore demonstrators. One pro-Bush marcher shoved his bull horn in the face of a foe, blaring his message: "Who won? Bush won!"

"They're super aggressive," Penny Van Horn, 45, said of those demonstrating for Bush. "They would love to get in a fist fight. I just want my voice to be heard."

Republican Andy Rebber passed by a dog clad with a pro-Gore sign and mumbled, "I bet that dog could figure out that ballot."

Rebber, 32, said the election fiasco is damaging global perceptions of the United States.

"They (Democrats) are making us look like a banana republic," Rebber said of the Democrats. "All the Republicans are trying to do is what's good for the country. We are the bedrock of democracy. This stuff happens in Serbia, not in the U.S."

Holding up a sign that read "Don't Get Snippy. Americans want a fair election," Van Horn said the voting problems in Florida should be addressed before a president is named.

"I really don't care who wins, I'll be happy as long as this is treated fairly," she said.

"This is not about Bush, this is not about Gore, this is about the American voters and the true voice of the American will," said Justin Doff, at a Ls Angeles rally. Around him, protesters demanding a new vote in Florida chanted "Re-Vote or Revolt."

"If Gore won the popular vote, he should be president," said Darrin Hoop, a 26-year-old UPS driver who joined a protest march through downtown Seattle.

Some in the crowd urged voters to write to the Electoral College, the Federal Election Commission, and the Florida governor - Bush's brother Jeb. "We in Seattle stand for democracy," Mark Taylor-Canfield told the cheering crowd. "And we are not going to go away without a fight."

The protestors say they're fighting for democracy, but "life goes on. The election will go on and veterans have to be celebrated," said Bob Geller, a Maryland veteran, said on Saturday, which was Veterans Day.

That same day, patriotism was non-partisan along New York City's Veterans Day parade route, too.

"By January, we'll have a new commander in chief. Democrat or Republican, doesn't matter to a soldier," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Chevalier.

The United States, the veterans say, is bigger than any president.

©2000 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report