Sept. 15 Washington, DC: A showdown on the Capitol steps

Several good videos of the Sept. 15 march can be found here and here. This video catches a rabid ‘patriot’ in action, typical of the allies of the Gathering of Eagles and Free Republic. Around 1,000 counter-protesters have been called a ‘vocal minority’ by the Washington Post.* Others have implied that their numbers were near that of the antiwar protesters. In reality, they were a few thugs hiding behind barricades, battering peaceful protesters with gross ignorance and broadcasting homophobia and racism through portable speaker phones. Several buzzed individually through the march and die-in. I witnessed a man shout at the anarchist contingent that they should go home to their parents. When he was told to fuck off he trembled visibly and walked speedily away.

The die-in participants were told to organise at a certain point and time and then asked to stay there when the speakers went over the scheduled time. The street was packed tightly, it was hot, and the scene was riddled by a few instigators demanding that the march proceed without the Iraq veterans who were to lead the march but were held up at the speaker stage.

Speakers could not be heard by those of us kept waiting at the front of the march. Based on what I’ve been told by a couple of people who stayed in Lafayette Park and videos I’ve seen, the 25th anniversary of Sabra and Shatila was not properly commemorated, despite its pre-march billing.

In other words, this was a typical ANSWER protest with one exception. A few more counter-protesters better organised than usual were in attendance but the real news is that a significant number of antiwar people are frustrated with protesting and seem ready and willing for direct action. The Capitol police ran the die-in. I don’t agree that volunteering to be arrested and fined hurts the state so I didn’t jump the fence but I was on hand in case the thousands who were there decided to take over the Capitol, if even for an hour. When it became obvious that was not going to happen I called it a day.

A few of my photos:

The group I travelled with to D.C., mostly University of Iowa students, given props from the ANSWER stage for their lively presence.

Artist with something to say.

The anarchist contingent, just before breaking into Wobbly song.

Santa was a generally popular character until he demanded that the march begin without the Iraq war vets. He proceeded to the die-in and remained a vocal and somewhat divisive presence.

The die-in wall.

*ed: 18 September – ‘Vocal Minority‘ – The Washington Post quoted a war supporter named Deborah King-Lile, who said, “We just want a chance to show America we don’t agree with the vocal minority.” The Post showcased the opinion in this report’s headline despite counter-protesters numbering around 1,000 and antiwar protesters in the tens of thousands.

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