Originally created 03/19/03

Group will limit scope of protests



As the likelihood of war increases in the Middle East, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition expects to scale back its numbers and its demands in Augusta during this year's Masters Tournament, an official with the group said Tuesday.

Janice Mathis - the vice president of the group that is headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson - said Rainbow/PUSH probably will avoid acts of civil disobedience and accept the two protest locations approved by local officials Tuesday. Rainbow/PUSH is one of two groups expected to demonstrate against the Augusta National Golf Club and its all-male membership this year.

"We have had a change of mind-set," Ms. Mathis said Tuesday.

"There is some feeling that we would have a more muted position if the country is at war," she said. "Not that we wouldn't be there, but we'd be there, perhaps, in a less confrontational way."

On Tuesday, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office approved one permit for as many as 100 people to protest on a 5-acre parcel on Washington Road owned by the National. That spot is being offered in place of two other requested locations that sheriff's officials said posed safety problems: one at Berckmans and Washington roads and another at Washington Road and Magnolia Drive.

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.

Notice of their approval was mailed out late Tuesday, and the group will have to notify local officials whether they will accept or reject those locations.

Also Tuesday, an anti-Jackson group filed an application to protest against Rainbow/PUSH during the tournament. The group, an urban ministry out of Los Angeles, Calif., is called Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny. The sheriff's office has seven days to respond.

Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or heidi.williams@augustachronicle.com.