Monday, September 26, 2005

All Us Protest Kids Pt. 3

After we re-joined the march we circled up to 14th street. All the cross streets were blocked by cops. We walked down doing one last chant, which was a call and response. One guy behind us yelled "How do we support the troops?" We answered with "Bring them home!". We kept this up for a few blocks when we reached a sort of dead spot. One woman, who was sitting on the sidewalk with a megaphone, intoned "Bush lied, thousands died" over and over. It bounced around the street where we stood, and it was really spooky. We hustled on past and came upon the counter demonstration, where a bunch of other marchers had converged.

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
We weren't allowed onto the sidewalk where they stood, and they were behind metal blockades preventing them from coming into the street. Of course we had to stop and look. Bob went up to try to debate one of them but they just shouted "commie! hippie!" at him. I stood next to Bob and tried to talk too, but there was some guy standing next to me shouting "Nazis! Nazis!" at the Freepers, who were more interested in responding to him - so much so that I figured he must have been a plant. I tried to get close enough so I could say something, and a cop told me to step off the curb or he would kick my ass. Not relishing a blow on the head, I walked off to find Jay1. As I left I heard one of the Freepers shout "So you're calling me stupid?" and I heard Bob yell "No! I'm calling you ignorant!"

Mykeru's Freak Exhibit
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
When I couldn't find Jay1 I went over to see Mykeru, who was dressed in full carnival barkers duds and was screaming at the top of his lungs "Come see the Wingnuts! Real Live Right Wingnuts here!" Hillarious. Then I went into the middle of the street to snap more pictures. Some idiot from the march torched a flag to cheers from his compatriots. Another guy started yelling "Sign up!" at the Freepers, and when a woman responded by showing her dog tags and yelling back "I already did!", the guy yelled "Go back! Hey, this is really cathartic!" The guy eventally walked off yelling "Zig Heil!" A really stupid display. I found out later he had gone to school with Jay1.

Support The Mission
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
Durring all of this, a guy with his face painted like a flag was yelling into a megaphone. The one non-garbled thing I heard him say was "You know what? One of us is going to send a picture of all this to a Freeper in Iraq and it's going to make him smile so big!" That didn't make much sense to me, but neither did any of their banners. I didn't need them to tell me A.N.S.W.E.R. is related to the W.W.P - us lefties already know that and are pretty ticked off about it. Besides, who cares? I wasn't there as a communist, I was there as a concerned citizen. I felt good though, because earlier that morning I had promised my girlfriend I wouldn't get into any sort of altercation with these people - not even if they called me a hippie. They had, in a general sense, and I stayed cool.

I finally found Jay1 on the other side of the street. He told me he had hid his sign and managed to get behind the barricades, where he posed as being sympathetic to their cause. He spoke with an older guy who said "I don't know why I keep comin' to these things. They always yell the same stuff and we always yell the same stuff back. It's just loud and boring." Jay1 asked him what he thought of the marchers. "They're ok. They're doing what they think is right, but they're misinformed." When Jay1 asked him how the marchers got their information, he replied "from their leaders, A.N.S.W.E.R." Jay1 thanked the guy and headed back to the march. When he re-entered the street a cop had told him "if you are part of this event and you come back over here, you're going to get beat."

To The Rescue
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
Jay1 and I stood where we were until we saw that a battalion of mounted cops were coming up the street, while cop cars drove through the group of marchers gathered in front of the Freepers. The Freepers cheered and the one on the megaphone said "Let's have a round of applause for the policemen. Excuse me, policemen and policewomen." Freepers? Being PC? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? No. I think the Freepers joy may have been somewhat misplaced, however. It was clear the streets were being cleared to allow traffic to come through, not because anyone had any particular beef with the marchers.

Cop Cars Breaking It Up
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
We were chased up the street by the mounteds until we reached the edge of the Mall, and that was pretty much that. We had lost Bob, but found out later he had made it home ok.

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.

We did go to the stage to see if we could catch Wayne Kramer, but we couldn't find out if he'd already gone on or if he was going to play, and if so, when. Instead we listened to a few speakers and the hip-hop with instruments group The Coup. Evidently we missed the worst offenders from the A.N.S.W.E.R. camp and heard a few members of United For Peace and Justice give general anti-war sentiments that were as inoffensive as they were uninspiring. I didn't like the attempt to flatter us into being "part of the movement". Some of the speeches from those who had lost family were really touching, but only one speaker really "rocked it"; a member of the Washington Wizards, gave a speech explaining how he'd like to pile all the major right wingers into busses with no air conditioning and drive them to live in the hood.

All in all I'd say the march was pretty positive. I think the people like Gilliard and Wolcott who saw it on television and were angry are correct when they say the lack of message discipline where it really matters is a terrible blow to the effectiveness of the movement. Right now it's more a conglomeration of many little special interest groups, and that is a problem. I'm not sure the best way to correct this. However, I do know that as a direct participant it seemed like we are attracting more and more mainstream folks to the cause, and that's a good thing. I'll end with one more photo which, to me, shows why I was there.

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
This is a photo from outside Camp Casey. It's pictures of all the service people who have died in Iraq. I don't want to see any more faces added.

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