Fifth Anniversary

For a couple of weeks now there has been a line of strikers across the street. yelling and banging on drums for hours at a time. I'd nearly gotten used to the din. This morning, no sooner had I arrived at the office when the disturbance from the street was louder than usual. I leaned over to peer out the window, saw a circle of nine people linked together in the middle of 17th and L Street, and went back outside.

Others milled about, including women on stilts dressed in all black. A lot of people were dressed in black. Crowds began to gather on the sidewalks, holding up cell phones.

Cars honked and tried to get around the protesters. It didn't take long for a cop to show up and divert traffic. And then more cops.

The police arrived in waves over a period of 10-15 minutes-- motorcycle cops, two groups on mountain bikes (DC police in blue, Park Service in white), and in due time the riot truck and the helicopter.

That's a Smith & Wesson law enforcement special, son.

Actually, I thought the cops were pretty reasonable, all things considered. Code Pink rolled a pink bed down the sidewalk and into the street. The cops told them to keep it on the sidewalk. Fair enough, if you have to push a pink bed around.

I went back to work and watched now and then from my window. Within an hour the group had been cut apart and hauled away, traffic returned to normal.

After noon I went for a walk by the White House and found another hooded protester protesting the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo.

There was a couple nearby taking pictures of each other, so I asked if they wanted a photo together. Rather than stand together with the White House as the backdrop, they stood to the right of this guy. "Do you mind?" the woman asked the protester. "Not at all," he said from beneath the hood, his hands remaining behind his back. "Be my guest."

It was surreal. I wish I had a copy of that image -- the tourists next to a protester in orange.

The orange jumpsuit is a fashion you see in DC more often than you might expect. I wonder if they're reenforced in the knees.

On the way back to the office I swung through MacPhearson Square, where festivities were scheduled for 2 in the afternoon. The area was already happening.

The Granny Brigade knitted furiously in dissent.

Along the way I picked up a couple of signs for souvenirs, a nice yellow "USA Out Of Iraq" placard and a smaller blue peace sign. I tucked them under my arm and noted the time. Almost 1 p.m. Time to head back.

By then the cops completely encircled MacPherson Square. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder on K Street, backed up by a row of motorcycles and lines of cars, lights flashing everywhere. An officer with a bullhorn announces that anybody who steps off the sidewalk into K Street will be arrested.

For the first time, I realize that by coincidence I'm wearing my black button-down dress shirt and the same black hooded sweatshirt that I wear every day -- dressed in black like everybody else -- and carrying anti-war signs. "Officer," I said, trying my friendliest face, "Can I just cross the street? I need to get back to my office."

He just started at me. Hard. I gestured to the mob of thousands behind me. "I'm not with them. I don't know these people."

"Where is your office?" he asked. I pointed across K. "I suggest you walk a couple of blocks down the street and then cross," he said.

And that's what I did -- just my personal policy to not argue with people with guns.


Post a Comment

<< Home