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Rainbow to scale back Augusta protests

The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition will reduce its numbers and demands during the Masters golf tournament in light of recent developments that could lead to war with Iraq.

Janice Mathis, the group's vice president, said Tuesday that the coalition probably will avoid acts of civil disobedience and accept the two protest locations approved by local officials.

Rainbow/PUSH, headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the National Council of Women's Organization have spearheaded protests against the Augusta National Golf Club and its all-male membership.

"We have had a change of mindset," 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 approved one permit Tuesday for as many as 100 people to protest on a five-acre parcel on club-owned 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 of the sidewalks surrounding the center.

The group will have to notify local officials whether they will accept or reject those locations.

A Los Angeles-based 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.

 

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