Aug 27, 2010 10:00 PM by Alison Haynes
WASHINGTON (AP) - On the eve of conservative commentator Glenn
Beck's rally at the Lincoln Memorial, a blogger's assertion that
parts of the nation's capital should be avoided touched off
accusations of racism and a sharp response by angry city leaders.
Thousands of conservative, tea party supporters were expected at
the demonstration Saturday that Beck has called a "Restoring
Honor" rally to show support of the country's military at the site
where Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech 47
ars ago to the day.
The location and timing prompted civil rights leaders to cry
"They have a right to rally. But what they don't have the right
do is distort what Dr. King's dream was about," the Rev. Al
Sharpton declared Friday. He called the tea party assembly an
anti-government action and has organized a counter rally also near
the site of King's historic speech.
With emotions already high, the work of a largely unknown tea
party blogger, Bruce Majors, brought them to a fever pitch on
The blog, which first appeared last Monday and has been widely
viewed and distributed since then, warned conservative protesters
visiting the nation's capital to avoid certain subway lines,
suggesting they are unsafe, that certain neighborhoods should be
avoided, that the city is populated by the world's refugees - that
taxi drivers are often Arab or African - and that generally
visitors should be wary.
A inspired a satirical map of Washington with all of the
city marked unsafe, except for the tiny sliver of the National
Mall, home to the Lincoln Memorial. Some people mistakenly assumed
the map was put out by Beck rally supporters.
City leaders didn't see the humor.
"Frankly, we need to put an end to that venom," said Vincent
Gray, a member of the District of Columbia Council and a candidate
for mayor, at a news conference Friday. "This is a city of 600,000
people - people who enjoy living here, people who pay their
taxes." He urged tea party activists to ride the subway and visit
the city's neighborhoods.
"People from all over the world work, live, visit and explore
this city safely every day," added Elliott Ferguson, president of
the tourism bureau Destination D.C.
Organizers of the Beck rally declined to comment on the blog
Majors said he offered his post as a "visitors guide" to
people pla ng to attend the Beck rally. In an interview Friday,
Majors said he was thinking of his mother and people like her who
don't live in cities when he wrote the post. He never expected it
to draw much attention.
The posting offered hints on cheap eats, free wireless Internet
spots - and the home addresses of Democratic political leaders,
with the note "Feel free to protest!" And he urged visitors to
avoid certain subway lines and stay in more affluent parts of the
A real estate agent who has lived in Washington since 1980,
Majors said it was not intended as racist.
In fact, some of the neighborhoods that Majors suggested as
dangerous - areas targeted by race riots more than 40 years ago -
have undergone a revitalization and today sport new stores,
restaurants, a diversity of residents and a thriving nightlife.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said on MSNBC this
week that the blog post was fear-mongko ng.
"This is obviously scaring white people," Robinson said.
"What they have done is essentially try to put off-limits any
parts of the city where these main tea partiers believe you might
be able to encounter, dare I say, black people."
Sharpton described the demonstration planned for Saturday by
Beck and his supporters as an anti-government rally advocating
states' rights. And he said that goes against the message in King's
famous "I Have a Dream" speech, in which the civil rights leader
appealed to the federal government to ensure equality.
Beck and other organizers say the aim is to pay tribute to
America's military personnel and others "who embody our nation's
founding principles of integrity, truth and honor." The
broadcaster toured the site Friday as supporters cheered.