AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Martha Burk's supporters gathered outside Augusta National on Saturday, declaring that they have thousands of people behind them in the fight to force the elite golf club to admit a woman.
Jessica Terlikowskia, a 25-year-old full-time activist from Washington, put up a sign targeting corporations with executives in the club. The banner read "Women Play/CEOs Play" and included the logos of Ford, General Electric, Citigroup, Coors, Coca-Cola and Viacom.
Terlikowskia said she and six others drove all night from Washington to join Burk and about 200 others with the National Council of Women's Organization. The group says the 300-member club that hosts the Masters is guilty of sex discrimination.
"This is not just one woman battling Hootie," she said, referring to the Augusta National chairman, Hootie Johnson. "It's definitely to show that she's not alone, and that many people recognize that for women to reach full equality we have to have access to all places."
Johnson hasn't budged in defending the club's male-only membership. And Burk, while stopping short of saying her cause has lost steam, has acknowledged that the spotlight has shifted in the weeks since war erupted in Iraq.
"We may have 100. I don't know," Burk said Friday when asked about the size of the protest. "It's not about numbers. I hope we have a good number of people to make our point, but we don't need a cast of thousands."
The demonstrators, and several counter-protesters, are sharing a weedy 5.1-acre lot a half-mile from Augusta National's main gate. Sheriff Ronald Strength chose the site to keep the one-day protest from snarling Masters traffic. Some fans walking to the course to watch the Masters talked to protesters and bought anti-Burk T-shirts and buttons.
At least 100 police cars were parked in the lot to separate the groups from each other. About half the site was designated for Burk's group and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which planned to send 100 picketers to support her. Jackson said he would not attend.
The rest of the lot was broken up into sections for rival protesters. They include Todd Manzi of Tampa, Fla., Burk's self-appointed nemesis, and Joseph J. Harper of Cordele, Ga., the leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group.
Adding to the free-speech free-for-all was Dave Walker of Atlanta, a one-man pro-war rally whose baseball cap says "Give War a Chance," and an anti-Jackson group called Brotherhood of a New Destiny.
A few locals calling themselves People Against Ridiculous Protests said they were making their point by not protesting. They planted their banners -- one saying "Look at all the RIDICULOUS people" -- and left.
"We just don't want to show up and add to the ridiculousness of what's going on," said Deke Wiggins, leader of the group.
Several people arrived to criticize Burk for focusing so much attention on a golf club while the nation is at war.
"As a woman, I wouldn't waste that much money and effort to try to be part of an association that doesn't want women," said Katie Parks, 25, of Washington.
The sheriff approved permits for more than 900 protesters at the site, though only a fraction of that was expected. Still, he scheduled about 100 deputies and state troopers to prevent clashes between factions.
"We don't want to arrest anyone," Strength told protest organizers Friday. "But if any law is violated ... we will take that person or persons into custody."
Strength warned that would include any protesters venturing closer to the golf club gates.
Burk initially sought permission to post 24 protesters on either side of the wrought iron gate where players and club members enter the grounds, and 200 more across the street.
The sheriff denied her a permit to get that close, saying protesters would be a dangerous distraction to Masters fans walking and driving to the course. Burk sued, but a federal judge and an appeals court upheld Strength's decision.
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