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'Rally for America' lacks site in region

02/21/03
Brian E. Albrecht
Plain Dealer Reporter

Plans for a patriotic "Rally for America" in Cleveland, created by nationally syndicated conservative radio talk-show host Glenn Beck, drifted in the airwaves of uncertainty yesterday after hitting one not-so-slight problem - no place to rally.

News of the event, scheduled for noon March 2 and designed as a show of support for U.S. troops, was announced yesterday morning during Beck's show, which originates in Philadelphia and airs locally on WTAM-AM 1100. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was also given as the rally location and listed on Beck's Web site.

However, rock hall officials who met later that day with WTAM representatives decided not to host the rally because of size constraints and safety issues. Kevin Metheny, regional vice president of programming for Clear Channel Radio, said rock hall estimates of a crowd of 5,000 to 8,000 people prompted the concern.

He said a new venue is being sought, and he is "99 percent" confident that the rally will go on as scheduled.

Contacted at home, Beck said the rally is one of several to be held in cities across the country where stations carry his show. He credited listeners with bringing the rally here, after previously announcing that he wanted to stage the event in the nation's heartland, possibly Ohio.

Beck noted that the event "is not a pro-war rally. I want our troops to hear a clear message from us that whether we agree with fighting the war or disagree, we stand behind them and will not desert them."

He said he was a little nervous about how the rally might be interpreted. "It needs to be reasonable, thoughtful and prayerful," he said. "It needs to be something that does not have any anger or bitterness in it. I do not want to see anyone in the crowd with a sign that says Let's bomb Saddam.' "But I fear that the extreme edge of both sides [for and against war] will use these rallies to further that hatred, and I will not be a part of that," he added.

If the rally is March 2, it would fall on the same day the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition is holding a rally and march at 2 p.m., starting at Christ the King Catholic Church, 1862 Noble Road in East Cleveland.

Greg Coleridge, NOAC coordinator, said the group has no plans to respond to the "Rally for America."

"It'd be a waste of our time," he said. "Our time is dedicated to trying to put maximum pressure on our two [Ohio] senators and the Bush administration. "We want them to wake up and act rationally, reasonably and morally and do everything they can to prevent a slaughter from occurring that will only place American soldiers' lives at risk and take funding away from social and economic services right here in Northeast Ohio."

As for the possible rally and possible war, everyone will just have to stay tuned.

2003 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.

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