NEW YORK – Thousands voiced their anger toward President Bush in the streets on Tuesday, but peace activist Fernando Suarez del Solar of Escondido took his message to the floor of the Republican National Convention.
As first lady Laura Bush was delivering her prime-time speech in Madison Square Garden, Suarez, standing near the Texas delegation, held a banner that read, "Bush Lied. My Son Died."
Fernando Suarez del Solar, left, of Escondido, Calif., carries a sign with a picture of his son Jesus Suarez Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004 in New York outside a hotel where former President Bush was speaking to the Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute as part of their 'Celebrating Hispanic Progress & Opportunity' reception in conjunction with the Republican National Convention being held this week in New York. Jesus Suarez was a lance corporal who became the first Marine killed in the Iraq war when he died in March of 2003 seven days after the U.S.-led invasion began. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Suarez, who had made it through security on a borrowed credential and hid the banner under his clothes, was quickly escorted out.
Yesterday, the father of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar, who died in Iraq, said he welcomed the opportunity to perform his act of civil disobedience.
"A friend told me, 'Now is your chance,' so I took it," Suarez said.
He was surprised by and thankful for the responses of a few Republican delegates who expressed sympathy and understanding as he was being led out of the convention hall.
"They said, 'I agree with you. I'm sorry,' " he said.
Suarez was not arrested and said he was treated well by security personnel.
The Tijuana-born Suarez has been active in a peace organization, Military Families Speak Out, since his son's death in March 2003. He walked at the head of Sunday's United for Peace and Justice march through midtown Manhattan.
Suarez was one of several protesters who made it to the convention floor in the past two days.
Not long after Suarez was escorted out, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, an anti-war women's group, got within 30 feet of Vice President Dick Cheney during Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech.
"How much money has Halliburton made in Iraq?" she yelled at Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton.
She held a banner reading: "Be Pro Life. Stop Killing in Iraq."
And yesterday morning, demonstrators from ACT UP, the AIDS activist group, crashed a Republican youth gathering on the convention floor just after Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, introduced White House chief of staff Andrew Card.
Although multiple levels of security checkpoints make it virtually impossible to smuggle a weapon into the convention, many credentials do not have photos and can be swapped freely. Suarez said he got his credential from friends who had radio and television credentials, but he would not say who they were.
© 2004 Copyright Union-Tribune Publishing Co.