At 8am, Mike and I met in Starbuck's in Dupont Circle. There were already several folks there making protest signs and getting ready. Mike was busy handing out press releases to anyone who looked vaguely like a press person. We saw Barney Frank and Mike said something "Selected Not Elected" and Mr. Frank retorted, "Don't Blame Me, I didn't vote for him!"
Kris came in later, followed by Genie and Sharon and several other folks who were just hanging out, getting coffee and the like. Mike's 9th grade son "Jay" was there as well, ready to join the protest with much fervor. I met a couple from Ithaca, both academics, and a photographer from a Connecticut paper. Then it seemed like the streets and Dupont Circle started swelling up with folks. It was particularly astounding was when the Lancastar Pa folks came en mass up Connecticut street towards the circle. It was amazing. You should have seen all the signs and puppets and garb!! I'll probably never forget the image of that protestor wearing the american flag draped around him, with police tape wrapped all around him. Too much creativity everywhere to even adequately describe. But we've got some pictures!!!!!
The Justice Action Movement people started to march down to the Parade at 11am and Mike, Jay and I wanted to join them, mainly because we were freezing to death! Unfortunately we had a miscommunication with Kris and Cheryl, tried to play phone tag with them the rest of the day, but scooped up a bunch of shirts to sell before we left (we sold all of them with very little effort). We hooked up with Diana and her friend along the way.
I cannot fully express the amazement of walking down P street in such a throng. Traffic was stopped and I'm quite sure the organizers were not prepared for the thousands of folks walking down. There were easily 10,000 folks just around us. We saw a fellow, not 30 feet away, who climbed a lamppost and burned a flag. It was quite the sight, although I hear he was promptly arrested. Anyways, this massive crowd was walking down towards the parade and we ran into a barricade. The police presence was huge, riot gear and the full nine yards. Helicopters buzzing continuosly overhead, snipers careully positioned. The police started to pull up behind the marchers, and the crowd split into three parts (two of which went down alleys and the third staying put). Of course, none of these pathways were legal, and it was quite the scene. The group we were with marched right down the street (I can't remember which one in all the chaotic excitement) but it was like a river of people with limousines, cars and cabs sticking up like pebbles. I think we freaked out the police, but they had blocked all routes of access! Anyways before the police lost it, the crowds somehow coalesced down near the parade route. We were heckled by several Bushistas and Mike was particularly picked on. How dare us ruin such a peaceful fun loving coup d'etat!!
Mike was interviewed live by the DC Indymedia center, which was webcast and broadcast over radio. He talked about the Super Bowl Banner (oh, I forgot, Mike Malloy read our Press Release in Dupont Circle to a good 20,000 people, who cheered and cheered our banner idea).
Anyways, I'm sure I'm leaving out lots of stuff, but we were deafening during the actual motorcade. We drowned out the speakers who were dispensing nuggets of Bush trivia; we drowned out the Bush supporters. It was awe-inspiring, and the racket when Bush and Cheney drove by was unearthly.
It has been an amazing trip and this was an amazing day. I watched the news when I got back to the apartment and realized that they (no surprise) were showing a very different inaugural than the one I experienced. I would bet that the majority of folks here would not paint the rosy picture that I saw on MSNBC. I was particularly struck that there were images of Bush walking outside of his vehicle; while he came close to us he was locked away. Why do the words "I'm the president of all people" lodge so bitterly in my brain today?
Okay, that's the news from the DC front. I hope all the other actions in the nation went well also. I won't be back to a computer until Sunday night. Take care everyone!
Back to "News from the Front."
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