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Group Protests Vacationing Bush

Steve Bodnar

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine - All of President George W. Bush's visits to his parents' Walker's Point home have had a common denominator in the past few years: protesters.0803 01 1And on Saturday, a group of about 75 people marching along Ocean Avenue to a roadblock near the Bush compound helped to continue that streak.
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The march occurred during Bush's three-day vacation to the oceanfront home of his parents, former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.

Hundreds of protesters gathered near Walker's Point on two separate occasions last summer, while Bush hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Saturday's march began at the Kennebunkport Consolidated School on School Street around 1 p.m. and took about an hour to reach a checkpoint set up by Kennebunkport police and Secret Service at the corner of Summit and Ocean avenues.

"As long as Bush has been here there's been a reason to march," said Diane Denk, a member of the Kennebunk Democratic Town Committee, just before lining up for the march.

"We're all politically active in this area. If there is a just cause that we believe in, then we're there," said Denk.

Jamilla El-Shafei, a peace activist from Kennebunk, said the protest was organized to voice concerns about government policy concerning Iran and Iraq.

She said the march was sponsored by the Kennebunks PEACE Department and a number of other activist groups, including CODE PINK.

As protesters marched, about a dozen tourists and local residents looked on with interest.

Marianne Scrimalli, a vacationer from Scranton, Pa., who attended a wedding earlier in the day, said she hadn't expected to see the protesters, but that it wasn't surprising.

"It's America, if we didn't have protesters ...; it just makes sense," said Scrimalli among friends at a Walker's Point viewing area. "It's how things get done."

According to Kennebunkport Police Chief Joseph Bruni, the march was escorted by police to ensure the safety of protesters, pedestrians and traffic.

"Everything went exactly as planned," said Bruni after the protesters turned around at the roadblock and headed back to the Kennebunkport Consolidated School. "(The march) was something I discussed with the march leader, Jamilla, and the decision was made to stop at the first checkpoint."

Copyright © 2008 Seacoast Media Group, a subsidiary of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

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