Thursday, October 06, 2011
Occupy DC -- the DC offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement that has set leftist hearts aflutter -- staged a rally today and decided to go check it out. I was curious to see how many people would be in attendance amidst the beautiful weather and considerable hype, what exactly they would be protesting and whether they were the same lefties I had encountered at previous protests or something new. Waiting to cross the street to Freedom Plaza, here's the first thing I saw:
The sign being held says something about "People Not Wars" and, if I recall correctly, pulling out of Afghanistan. After entering the plaza the second person I saw was a 60ish guy wearing women's clothes (couldn't bring myself to take a picture). Here was the scene from the plaza's edge:
As can be seen, it wasn't exactly packed although the crowd did become denser the closer one got to the stage on the other side of the plaza. My estimate was anywhere from 800-1,000 people in attendance as of 1pm, which meshes with Code Pink's numbers (This Washington Post story makes reference to "hundreds" and "scores" of protesters).
Judging by the signs present it seemed that about 30% of the attendees had an explicit anti-war message while the remainder were more in an anti-corporate/capitalism vein (also spotted two "End the Fed" signs -- Ron Paul fans?). Unlike previous left-wing gatherings I've been to, this one did not feature any signs about Free Mumia, Free Palestine, Close the School of the Americas, etc.
Wearing a jacket and tie, I stuck out like a sore thumb and was asked by one person within my first 5 minutes whether I was "for or against" (I responded that I was simply there to take in the scene, which is mostly true). Within my first ten minutes I was handed a leaflet advertising this book as well as a Rock the Vote button (something never offered to me at any of the Tea Party protests I have attended).
The next thing I noticed was the amount of media present. In this photo alone one can see at least 4 television cameras being held:
Also note the number of television trucks:
On stage when I arrived was a guy was rapping about revolution, rhyming it with constitution and solution, with the next speaker up a woman from Utah who described sitting next to an investment banker on a plane who admitted to living a miserable life. She then railed against capitalism and said that the world was "fake" and we needed to make it "real." She urged that when protesters are asked why they were present at Freedom Plaza to respond "to be here" and if people don't understand then it's their problem. Next up was another rapper, introduced as a DC-based anti-gentrification activist, who launched into a rap about racism and the Redskins football team.
At that point I called it a day and headed back to the office. My final shot: