Sunday, September 16, 2007


So, yesterday was yet another protest for which the Pwesident decided to leave town (COWARD!), but we decided to go anyway, and do our part in adding numbers to the crowds who are protesting the war. This one seemed like it would be fun and really symbolic, as we were marching from the White House to Congress. Then, last week I heard on the news that the counter protesters had finally gotten themselves organized and were planning a rally of 30-40K on the National Mall at the same time, so I thought, "Well, finally we're going to get some action!" instead of the same crowd of 20-30 "Hippies Smell" types.

This was our fourth protest this year, the first being in January from the National Mall to the Capitol, the second being in March from the Mall to the Pentagon, the third in May from Arlington Cemetery to the Capitol, and then this one from the White House to the Capitol. We decided to start out with Code Pink, which was having a rally on Freedom Plaza and would then meet up with the main group of protestors in Lafayette Park.

So, we decided after the morning's events not to bother making signs, plus I was too busy arguing politics with Lucas who is convinced that trickle-down economics is the way to save our country. We got off the Metro at Navy Memorial and started walking down about 5 blocks to where we had to meet up with the group, and this guy stops us to shake hands with us. It turned out to be Carlos Arredondo, who we have seen at every single protest this year. His son Alex was killed in Iraq in '04. He shook hands with us, introduced himself, thanked us for marching, and was on his way. We were blown away.

So, we got down to Code Pink and they were just getting organized. We stopped by the area where they had all kinds of pink things and picked up some pinks that said "Pro-Soldier, Pro-Peace", a pink tambourine, pink bubbles that read "Bush Blows", and pink crowns. Then we met one of the women who'd been kicked out of the Patraeus hearings and she showed us the bruises on her arms from the Capitol police. She wore those bruises like a new Cadillac, so proud of them and herself. She was 70 years old. I wanted to hug her.

We were sitting around waiting, and people started taking note of Judy's T-shirt, which read "I love my country. It's the government I'm afraid of" and she was asked to pose for a number of pictures. She was quite the little celebrity!

Finally, they got going on stage, and talked about the hunger strikes they had in California, actions with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Lieberman, and then they had a woman come on stage and start singing. They passed out song sheets, and they wanted Code Pink to be singing the whole length of the march (which didn't happen), so we sang songs for about an hour. It was kind of like being back at Girl Scout camp, a very warm and friendly atmosphere and all kinds of singing and dancing around. All that was missing as a campfire. It was truly the most fun I've had at a rally since we started this stuff. I felt like jumping up and yelling "Women Rule!"

Finally, they announced that it was time to head over the Lafayette Park, so we all got in a line and they started handing out banners. Judy and I were given one, unfurled it, and eventually we started moving. The minute we got the park, it was like the parting of the Red Sea. Everyone moved aside and we were given free reign to walk straight down the line and everyone was cheering like mad. I felt like a celebrity. "Go Code Pink!" "Here come the pink ladies!" It was awesome.

We made our way to the stage, stood around for about an hour, and then decided we should make our way over to where the line up was, since we were supposed to be 3rd in line, behind the Iraq War Veterans for Peace and the student group. We found them and headed over, and we were standing smack dab in front of the White House. WOO HOO!

We stood there another hour and everyone was getting aggravated. Seriously, they need to plan these freakin' rallies better--with the exception of the one in May, we have spent hours and hours just standing around, at which point everyone's feet are hurting, we're all hot, and everyone gets cranky.

Fortunately, the guitar lady kicked off and started everyone singing, which helped.

We got underway shortly thereafter, and two very enterprising guys set up a beverage cart smack in the protest route, so we were able to get some water and a Mountain Dew (the blueberry muffin didn't last that long!). Then we hauled it to the Capitol.

We discovered the bad things about holding a banner: 1) you have to walk pretty far apart to have it properly displayed and 2) it puts you in a position of some responsibility with your group.

So at first, we were supposed to be at the end of the line, and we were asked to bring up the rear with a couple who had a banner. Ok, fine. Then we were told to catch up to everyone and walk in the middle. Ok, fine again. Then we were told to go up towards the front. Okie dokie. Fine again. Then they decided to pull us all over to the side. We had people cutting in and out of the group, and some of the older folks were a full block behind, so we pulled over by the Code Pink bus and stood there for a while until everyone caught up.

Along the way, we encountered a couple of hundred counter-protesters, and this time they were really quite vocal. There was a lot of screaming and yelling going on with both sides, and the requisite "Hippies Smell" sign proudly displayed. We just flashed them the peace sign and kept on moving.

Eventually we got to the grounds of the Capitol, and that was where the "Die In" was supposed to take place--anyone who was willing to get arrested was supposed to lie down on the ground and wait for the police to haul them off. Judy wasn't too keen on that, and I was really wanting to do it, but figured that Michael might get in trouble, so we decided to leave. As it turned out, they only arrested the people who jumped the barricade, so we could have participated safely. Bummer. At that point, I could have used a nice nap in the sunshine.

We headed out, and talked with the Capitol Police on our way, and they turned out to be very nice and helpful in getting us out of there safely. Judy and I speculated there were 50,000 or so people there, but the organizers were guessing at 100,000. It was definitely a huge rally. And lots of fun!

I won't be protesting at the next one, not only because of the book festival, but also because the focus of the protest is so diffused and I don't happen to believe in everything they're marching about next time. However, there is a rally for health care at the Lincoln Memorial on 9/28 with all the stars of Sicko the Movie, and I'll be attending that (and dragging my mom!).

I think if this stuff is going to work, they need to have a concentrated effort--we want an end to the war and we want the President impeached. Then we can worry about the other issues they're bringing up... One thing at a time... But I guess that's why I'm not organizing these things :-)

0 pearl(s) of wisdom: