On the 19th of May 2006, Friday, President George Bush visited the Northern Kentucky University (NKU), on the border of Ohio and Kentucky, to speak on the American Competitiveness Initiative, a plan to boost research and development, and educational progress. He also attended a fund-raising event for Republican Congressman Geoff Davis thereafter. The Cincinnati chapter of AID and SFB, based in the Univeristy of Cincinnati – just a couple of miles north of the NKU, took this oppurtunity to protest against the perfunctory attitude of the US government in bringing Warren Andersen and Union Carbide to justice at Indian courts for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. For years the Indian goverment (CBI) has been trying, albeit half-heartedly, to get the FBI to help capture Mr. Andersen who had been procalimed a fugitive from justice in Indian courts for failure to show up at various criminal case proceedings. Armed with banners, poster boards and scary masks, five volunteers : Sandesh, Rupa, Gabriel, Moon and DC set out to make sure that our voice was heard and the cause noticed. And that we did!
President Bush was scheduled to speak at 3.40pm(EST) at Regent Hall, NKU. We, the SFB protesters donning scary masks, took position on a street corner at the main entrance to the NKU around 2.45pm waving banners and poster boards. We shared the stage with about 250 other protesters for various causes, but fortunately, our prime position and colorful demonstration made sure that we attracted attention. Although the presidential motorcade did not pass by us, the entire protesting group marched to a corridor pretty close to the venue of the talk and raised slogans , including ” Justice for Bhopal, Justice for ALL “. Some believe that we got lucky and got much closer to Bush than to the comfort of a few SS agents! A lot of the local media was intrigued by the very new cause ( ours ) showing up at Bush protests. We spoke to a freelance journalist attached to Cincy Post about why we were there and managed to be covered by a videomen from CNN, MSNBC and FOXNEWS ( I dont think it was aired though ! ). We stayed in that corridor till about 4.15pm after which the crowd dispersed. On the whole this was a very strong experience for us and are encouraged by attention we received. A few lessons learnt on how to play in the circus called Media Attention!