Burk: War may alter tone of Masters protest
by Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Martha Burk thinks war with Iraq would ``alter the tone and possibly the size'' of her planned protest during the Masters.
But Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, said Wednesday that war would not stop her from protesting on April 12 at the front gates of Augusta National -- unless the all-male club allows female members or postpones the tournament.
``If the country is at war it will alter the tone and possibly the size of any action that we bring,'' Burk told The Associated Press. ``I want to stress that whether or not we are there is 100 percent the club's call.''
Burk said the club should consider postponing the Masters if the nation is at war.
``The tournament is more than a golf match -- it is a large corporate party, liquor and entertainment flows freely throughout the week,'' she said. ``These are things I don't think the country is going to want to see happening during a time of national conflict.''
The Masters was canceled for three years (1943-45) because of World War II -- the only time since 1934 the tournament was canceled.
Last week, Burk's request to protest at Augusta National's front gate was denied, prompting her to sue the city to get permission.
One of Burk's allies, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, said Tuesday it will reduce its numbers and demands during the Masters because of the impending war.
The coalition, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, probably will avoid acts of civil disobedience and accept the two protest locations approved by local officials, Janice Mathis, the group's vice president, said Tuesday.
``We have had a change of mind-set,'' Mathis said. ``There is some feeling that we would have a more muted position if the country is at war. Not that we wouldn't be there, but we'd be there, perhaps, in a less confrontational way.''
The Richmond County sheriff's office Tuesday approved one permit for Rainbow/PUSH for as many as 100 people to protest on a 5-acre parcel on club-owned land on Washington Road. That spot was offered as an alternative to two other requested locations closer to the club's main gates.
Sheriff's officials said those locations posed safety problems. But a second site requested by the group was approved without exception, giving Rainbow/PUSH permission to place as many as 100 protesters at Wheeler and Highland roads in front of Surrey Center.
``It's totally an area of right of way,'' sheriff's Col. Gary Powell said, referring to the sidewalks surrounding the center.
The group will have to notify local officials whether it will accept or reject those locations.
An anti-Jackson group, the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, also applied for a permit Tuesday to protest against Rainbow/PUSH during the tournament.
The sheriff's office has seven days to respond. The tournament starts April 10.