Click to view image: '3dae271da5b7-cgyarrestflipflop.jpg'Police arrested this man after he tossed a plastic flip-flop, which hit a building
Four people were arrested in downtown Calgary Tuesday during a protest outside the building where former U.S. president George W. Bush was speaking at a private luncheon.
Two men were charged with obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. Another man was charged with breaching the peace, while the fourth was issued a ticket for violating a public behaviour bylaw, said Duty Insp. Rob Williams.
Bush addressed an invitation-only crowd of about 1,500 at the Telus Convention Centre in his first speech since leaving office. Tickets were reported to cost $400 per person. Media were not allowed inside.
About 200 protesters crowded around the entrance of the convention centre in the morning, heckling ticket holders and chanting "go home."
"I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to publicly voice my displeasure with the American foreign policy [under Bush]," said Jeff Gaillus, who was carrying a rod with a shoe at the end of it. "I'm not sure what he has to tell us to shed wisdom on the future of the planet."
Protesters heckle ticket holders
One protester, who told CBC News he was "making a statement," tossed a plastic flip-flop sandal, which hit a building. Police handcuffed him and put him inside a police van, saying he was going to be ticketed.
"What are you doing arresting that man? The criminal is inside," shouted a protester while others chanted, "Let him go."
Click to view image: '825502add800-tpcgyarrestbushman.jpg'Police arrest a man in a Calgary intersection
Several people used shoes as props during the protest, a nod to an incident in December 2008 in which an Iraqi journalist hurled two shoes at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad.
Bush ducked, and the shoes never made contact with their target. Nevertheless, the journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi, was sentenced last week to three years in prison for assaulting a foreign head of state during an official visit.
Security was tight, and signs warned that guests could be searched. Calgary police said they assigned a total of 79 officers, including traffic units, to the event.
A lineup of people holding tickets to the event stretched about two city blocks Tuesday morning, but ticket holders were inside the building by 1 p.m. local time.
Among those waiting to hear Bush speak were Senator Pamela Wallin, former Alberta energy minister Murray Smith, CBC hockey broadcaster Kelly Hrudey, former Alberta premier Ralph Klein and Calgary aldermen John Mar and Ric McIver.
Click to view image: '95271c3ea989-tpcgybushprotest.jpg'A person dressed as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner tried to use a jury-rigged cannon device to fire shoes out onto Stephen Avenue Mall, but police stepped in.
"You might not agree with eight years of the policies of Bush … but if he is here, might as well hear what he has to say," said Paul Dhillon, who was waiting in line to go into the event.
After the one-hour speech and question-and-answer session, attendees said Bush was candid and showed a sense of humour, joking that Calgary was one of the few places that would have him.
"You get the sense that he genuinely believes in what he's saying … whether or not you believe or agree with him," said John Owen, leaving the event.
The 43rd U.S. president defended his reasons for military action in Iraq and Afghanistan as the appropriate approach to spreading democracy, said attendees.
"He said if we were in his boots in 9/11, a short time after he got in, there was a big demand to do something, and he had to react and he reacted," said George Fink, CEO of Bonterra Oil and Gas.
Bush's visit "indicates that Calgary is certainly a 'baby' international city, and one of the premiere economic and leading-edge cities in North America," Mar said.
Shoes thrown at Bush billboard
Critics of Bush's visit held small demonstrations leading up to his speech, calling for his arrest as a war criminal because of his alleged sanctioning of torture at U.S. military prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.
Click to view image: '5e4492c6774e-cgybushshoes.jpg'Protesters threw shoes at a billboard image of George W. Bush outside the Telus Convention Centre, where the former U.S. president was speaking.
The protesters included a person dressed as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner who tried to use a jury-rigged cannon device to fire shoes in front of the convention centre, but police moved her further away down Stephen Avenue Mall.
Another protester, Doug Beck, who was wearing work boots around his neck and carrying several other pairs with his hands, called it "performance art."
"Four hundred dollars a plate? They've got to think of something better [to do] with that money," Beck said, pointing to the lineup.
Protesters made speeches denouncing Bush and his decision to invade Iraq and ended the rally by hurling shoes at a billboard with a poster of the former president's face.
"We don't agree with his actions," said Heather Hendrie, who attended the protests.
Bush was scheduled to speak "on eight momentous years in the Oval Office" and "the challenges facing the world in the 21st century," according to promotional materials for the event.
Organizers Andy McCreath and Christian Darbyshire reportedly paid former U.S. president Bill Clinton $150,000 for a March 2006 speech in Edmonton and have hired Lance Armstrong and Colin Powell for other high-profile speaking engagements in the past.
In: Iraq, Afghanistan, News
Tags: 4, arrested, outside, Bush's, speaking, engagement, in, Calgary
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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