FRESNO–President George Bush pledged his administration’s support of national parks Wednesday morning–while touring Sequoia National Park and other parks in Central California.
On Tuesday night–President Bush stepped off Air Force One in Fresno for a few minutes and boarded a helicopter headed to the mountains. Bush was expected to spend Tuesday night in Fresno before heading to Sequoia National Park on Wednesday–but instead–the president stayed in Fresno only long enough to hear the Armenia’s protest. The president returned via the Marine One presidential helicopter to Fresno Yosemite International Airport–where Air Force One awaited to take him back to Washington.
Realizing the opportunity–Armenian-Americans distributed fliers denouncing Bush for a broken campaign promise: failing to recognize the deaths of more than 1.5 million Armenia’s in the early 20th century as a genocide.
Richard Sanikian of the Armenian National Committee of Fresno handed out fliers and said he was disappointed that Bush skirted the protesters by not spending the night in Fresno. They chanted–"Bush–don’t hide–recognize the Genocide."
"We’re relying on the media to echo our thoughts to him–and I’m sure he has heard our chant," Sanikian said.
The protest was featured in the Fresno Bee newspaper and carried live on the local 5:00 p.m. news as well as the later evening news. The Armenian National Committee (ANC)–the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF)–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF)–and Homenetmen along with other Armenian community members took part in the protest (30 protesters).
"We were the loudest–most organized–largest youth showing–and with a humanitarian issue," said Sanikian. The Armenian-American protesters were among Bush supporters–energy issue protesters–Green Party activists–and Sierra Club Members totaling approximately 150 protesters.
"The Armenian-Americans of Fresno did not let them dilute our message–it was the loudest and clearest to everyone," said Sanikian.