Rallies planned for Cheney’s speech
PROVO, Utah – Students at Brigham Young University have been given permission to protest Vice President Dick Cheney’s commencement speech – two hours before he gives it.And another group is working on an alternative graduation event two hours after the Cheney address that could feature a speech by former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.The two events would bookend a day of rallies to coincide with Cheney’s April 26 speech.A student from BYU contacted Nader through his office at the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, the center’s office manager told The Associated Press Thursday.The request is still being considered, said Barry Williams.Even without Nader, there will be at least four rallies planned for the day. Several students and faculty members have spoken out against BYU’s choice of Cheney to deliver the commencement address at the private school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The College Democrats have already held a sit-in style protest on campus, and now they have received permission to hold a protest on campus the day of commencement from noon to 2 p.m. Cheney’s speech is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.The demonstration is scheduled to take place in front of the “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve” sign at the entrance to campus.The demonstration’s slogan will be “Go Forth, Establish Peace,” said the rally’s organizer, College Democrats president Diane Bailey.Bailey said the rally will be positive and should be seen by thousands on their way to the Marriott Center for commencement.BYU policy prohibits campus demonstrations by off-campus groups, so organizers of the other rallies have contacted Provo hoping to reserve city parks, Mayor Lewis Billings said.The city doesn’t take park reservations until May 1.”Until then, parks are available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Billings said.That’s making planning difficult for the alternative activities and for two other rallies in support of Cheney. One of the pro-Cheney rallies is being organized by a veteran’s group, the other by local Republican leaders.Utah County Republican Chairwoman Marian Monnahan said her group will apply for a mass-gathering permit, required by the city for more than 300 people.”We’re inviting any citizen in Provo who wishes to support the vice president,” Monnahan said. “Republicans, Democrats, we don’t care. We feel it’s important to do that.”The alternative commencement group hopes to draw 1,000 to 2,000 to its event scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. April 26.”A lot of people from different groups in Salt Lake have said they’re interested in coming down. They’ve already chartered buses,” said Ashley Sanders, one of the event organizers.