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How a Bunch of Ragtag Militant Protesters Turned the Gates of Notre Dame into the Gates of Hell

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As we were walking up to the gates from the South Quad, I could see a mass of people, media and protesters and police, who were all falling in on one another. Acts of civil disobedience had just begun before we got there and the media was eating it up (especially Griff Jenkins from FOX News).


The protesters figured out that if they went limp as they were being arrested and forced the police to carry them to the van they would be able to give the media the best video—video which would make it look like what the police were doing was somewhat heartless.

Griff Jenkins of FOX News gave a play by play of the arrests and arguments that were occurring just past the gates where protesters had engaged in civil disobedience for the past weeks. Jenkins, at one point, said in an on-air audio interview, “I think we [the media] are just as much in the way now.”

As everything calmed down and the police line was moved back so people could not come so far onto campus next time, I headed to the gates to see what it was like.

There was now a group holding up a statue of the Virgin Mary on their shoulders, playing bagpipes and drums, and wearing garb that included a kilt. What organization they were from, I cannot remember, but across the street was one guy who was angry at bishops and priests and not only was he against Obama but he wanted people to know that people should be their own bishop. He had traveled hundreds of miles to be here for a few hours.

As he debated a kilt-wearing anti-abortionist, he talked about how a Catholic bit him.

America’s Independent Party members were now here (you know, the party that was used as a vehicle for racial segregation advocate George C. Wallace’s campaign in 1968 and a party that thinks the Republicans aren’t far to the right enough—check them out).

Photo by Surfactant on Flickr

Alan Keyes, who actually was the presidential nominee for America’s Independent Party in 2008, showed up at the gates. He was arrested for trespassing on Notre Dame’s campus a second time on Friday and was not to be released until he was arraigned on Monday. (So, why he was out of jail I do not know.)

Now, Randall Terry, of “Operation Rescue” fame was here and he was ready for “victory.”

I had to go back to the South Quad and direct my cameraman who was filming the ND Response Rally, which included speakers against the Obama invitation. This was the only demonstration approved by Father Jenkins this weekend. After I checked in, I returned to the gates.

Picture by Surfactant on Flickr

The God Hates Fags people were now here. I had thought the area could not become more of a circus, but it was now officially a mud pit, which is what Randall Terry wanted (and what does that say about the anti-abortionists themselves?)

By now, every right wing or white power group in America probably had some of its members at the gates of Notre Dame protesting Obama. White power supporters had been here for the past few days cloaking their racism in anti-abortion rhetoric. (One KKK member said on Saturday to a Hispanic woman and an African American in their car, “I’m trying to save your race. I didn’t vote for him but Obama is the best thing that ever happened because he’s killing millions of your babies. You should be grateful. I’m trying to save your race.”)

There were those who showed up to combat the revolting groups that had come to shame Notre Dame. I interviewed a graduate student who worked in the Notre Dame Medicine building on the corner of the intersection that graphic photos of dismembered fetuses had been on for over a month. He talked about how he had to eat lunch with his happening outside his window.

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Kevin Gosztola is a writer and curator of Firedoglake's blog The Dissenter, a blog covering civil liberties in the age of technology. He is an editor for and a former intern and videographer for The Nation Magazine.And, he's the (more...)

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There may have been a lot of out of towners there ... by macdon1 on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 4:12:10 PM
Wonderful picturesque writing. I Am glad I was the... by William Whitten on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 5:33:42 PM
Oh, man!  That sounds like it was a regular c... by Sister Begonia on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:16:45 PM
That's Fred Phelps' organization. They were there.... by Kevin Gosztola on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:41:50 PM
These militants are extremely angry because t... by syed mahdi on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:34:17 AM
What I find disconcerting specifically regarding t... by WML on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 7:32:30 AM