The Pryor Times

Local News

March 22, 2012

Supporters, protesters turn out for glimpse of president

CUSHING — Some cheered while others chanted in protest as President Barack Obama passed through the town of Cushing en route to deliver a speech in a pipe field north of Ripley Thursday.

But whether they opposed the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, Cushing put its best foot foward as crowds lined both sides of Highway 18.

“It’s an honor to have the sitting president to come to your community and to our state,” Joe Naifeh, owner of Cushing’s Naifeh’s Deli and Grill, said. “As far as us as a business, business has been very brisk the last several days with the anticipation of (Obama) coming.”

Young and old lined the streets hoping to at least get a glimpse of the motorcade. Veronique Goodall traveled from Oklahoma City with her husband and three teenagers to wave as the president passed by.

“This is a great opportunity for them while they’re on their spring break,” Goodall said. “When they go back to school and the teacher asks, ‘What did you do on your spring break?’ they can say, ‘Oh, we got to see our president.’”

Erin Trippe, owner of Little Tree Nurse Practitioner Clinic in Drumright, said she closed up shop just to stand on the corner and watch the motorcade.

“To be able to have the president come and to be able to show our support, I’m beyond excited,” Trippe said. “I shut the clinic down so I could come today. I was like, ‘I’m going, I’m going. We’re going to show our support.’ He may only drive by and that’s all I may get to see, but I’m here.”

While most people were hoping just to sneak a peek at the president, others were hoping to make a point.

“We were protesting the expedited construction of the Keystone pipeline starting at Cushing and ending at Houston,” Jonathan Carter, who works at the Center for Energy Matters, said. “Due to the fact that the northern route from Canada to Cushing was denied and delayed due to concerns over potential damage to the water, we would just like to see the same concerns being raised over the water that’s contained within Oklahoma and Texas.”

Norman native Mary Francis said she came to protest for her seven grandchildren.

“We’re already seeing the effects of global warming, all the scientists agree on that,” Francis said. “It’s only going to get worse. We want alternatives. We want clean energy. We want our children to not have to suffer through the incredibly disasterous results of more polution.”

Even in the midst of the protest Carter said he did take a little time to acknowledge the historic significance of the president coming through Cushing.

“I voted for Obama in ‘08 and the way things go, my choices will likely be limited to two, and I’ll probably vote for Obama in 2012,” Carter said. “It’s not an anti-Obama protest. It’s nothing against him personally. It’s an anti-Keystone pipline protest. I would imagine that the vast majority of the people here will vote for Barack Obama in 2012. Some may be anti-Obama, but the likelihood of them voting for him in 2012 is very high. There’s always going to be disagreement amongst friends, and this is one of them.”

Some waving signs in Cushing Thursday were supporting the Keystone pipeline and demanding approval for the northern pipeline project that has been sidelined.

Native American tribal members joined protesters at Cushing’s Memorial Park. Their concern: That the southern pipeline could pass through sacred tribal burial grounds.

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