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Nationwide protests criticize Bush, Gore for election impasse

protestors
Election impasse protesters shout on Saturday in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia  

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN.com) -- Hastily planned demonstrations were held today in dozens of cities protesting the way both the Republican and Democratic parties were handling the election deadlock.

In Atlanta, Georgia, fewer than 200 demonstrators attended a rally in the city's Centennial Olympic Park, according to police estimates. Protest leaders said the number was closer to 300.

Demonstrators, holding placards and signs, chanted: "We want elections, not a coronation!"

"Trust the people!" read one sign. Another said, "As long as it takes!"

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Outside CNN Center in Atlanta, demonstrators gather in support of the vote recount in Florida

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Protesters included labor union leaders, African-American leaders and representatives of the disabled community, according to Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a gay and lesbian activist group.

"George W. Bush and Al Gore shouldn't be talking about who's going to blink first," Smith told CNN.com. "They should be talking about how are we going to restore faith in democracy in the American people, because it's been sorely tested right now."

"You have to understand that most of these people probably heard about this event this morning, and this has been the response," Smith said.

"This represents people from all across the country, from Tennessee to California, who are outraged about what appears to anyone with common sense to be an election that is flawed, that is so riddled with irregularities that it calls into question the outcome."

Nadine Smith
Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, speaks to demonstrators in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday  

"So whoever wins, when that fair and accurate count occurs, we can stand behind them and say this is the duly elected leader -- whether it's the person we supported or not -- we have to respect that we know that this is the person that America voted for," Smith said.

A Web site called geocities.com/countercoup said similar demonstrations were to be held Saturday from coast to coast: in San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Little Rock, Arkansas; Providence, Rhode Island, and elsewhere.

The unsettled situation in Florida -- where an unofficial recount showed Bush with a narrow lead -- has prompted both the GOP and the Democratic Party to take legal action, putting a final result of the presidential race in limbo.

Pending the outcome of the legal challenge, recounts held the potential to spread to other regions of the country if Republicans decide to challenge narrow Gore victories in Wisconsin, Oregon or elsewhere.

CNN Video Editor T.J. Lane and Associate Editor Ross Avner contributed to this report.


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Saturday, November 11, 2000

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