Monday, March 19, 2007

Gathering of Eagles / Anti War Rally

I made the long trek to DC this past weekend to see the Anti-War rally. I interviewed Capitol police, a few members of the Gathering of Eagles, and a few anti-war protesters.

(I'll blog about this in greater detail later and upload pictures... hopefully this afternoon).

Well it took a little longer to get the pics on to my laptop, but I am happy to be getting this post up.

Now I must admit I had hoped to be in the thick of things during the protest, but it was St. Patty's day and well... I was enjoying corned beef and cabbage and a pint of Guinness in a nice warm Irish Pub while the hundreds upon thousands of protesters were freezing in the cold and making idiots of themselves.

I started up on Capitol Hill and walked down to the Wall. While walking around the Capitol Building, I saw Capitol Police marching around the perimeter of the Capitol Building. They were marching 2 officers wide by about 7-8 deep in full gear. I thought about taking a picture of one of the several groups, but didn't want to draw their attention from the tasks. I also thought that taking pictures of a security detail in DC might draw the wrong kind of attention to myself.

When in front of the Capitol Building, I looked out towards the Washington Monument and didn't see much in the way of protesters or signs... just a lot of tourists with their families. I walked over to two of the Capitol Police, the two furthest to the left, to ask them a few questions.

I asked if there had been any vandalism to the Capitol Building or any of the monuments. He said that there hadn't been any reports of vandalism at that point, but that the protest was ongoing. I asked if there had been a lot of protesters. He said not at the Capitol, but that there were "a couple thousand" protesters somewhere between the Pentagon and the White House.

This was the view from Capitol Hill:

If you look at the middle of this picture you can see a yellow banner and some tents where some of the Protesters had made camp.

There were about 8-12 tents. Not a lot, really, for the millions upon millions of protesters who marched that day.

This is a pretty good representation of the tents. Several of the tents were large enough to sleep 5-6, and two of the tents were for meetings.

A few of the tents did not look large enough for anything other than a small curled up child.

Surprisingly, the ACLU did not show up and demand that these crosses be taken down.

I was afraid that maybe I had missed my chance to see the protesters. I did see a few here and there. Mostly in groups of 2-3, and occasionally in groups as many as 15-20. In all I estimate we saw 300-400 protesters. I am sure there were more, but most of the estimates I heard from people who watched were about 2000.

It is hard to see from this pic, but these protesters were carrying an effigy Bush with a flag covering his eyes. In one hand was a TV with CBS/ABC/FOX/CNN on it. In the other hand was an SUV and the names of some of the larger oil Companies. The protesters were chanting, "Don't be blinded by patriotism!" They were also chanting something about how the press is covering for the Bush's friends in the oil companies.

This guy was sitting right outside the Lincoln side entrance of the Wall. Below is another large crowd of what turned out to literally be billions and billions of protesters.

This large throng of protesters was right outside the Lincoln Memorial. Almost all of the protesters we saw came from that direction. When I was walking through, tourists outnumbered protesters about 10-1.

This was pretty typical of the signage. I posted this one out of order, it was near the tents.

When we made it to the wall, we did notice a few protesters. The ones we saw were solemn, respectful, and some of them were crying for loved ones lost. The wall, however, was untarnished.

I saw some of the Gathering of Eagles crowd and asked if there were any problems. "None, thank God," was their answer. One of the GoE members told me that Capitol Police had set up Metal Detectors at the entrances to keep cans of spray paint out. I asked if the protesters had become unruly. What I was told was the the great majority of protesters we visited the wall that day did so with all due respect.

Below are a few Vietnam Vets who came out for the GoE to protect the wall. These guys seemed pretty cool. They said there were LOT of Vietnam Vets, a large number of Iraq War Vets, and even a few WWII fellows all out to protect the monuments from vandalism. I asked if there were any altercations with the protesters. He said there was a good deal of shouting back and forth, but the protesters ultimately knew better than to start any trouble with their group.

He told me that there really weren't that many protesters and that there were at least as many and probably more Gathering of Eagles members than protesters.

I know that the Washington Post described the crowd of protesters in the thousands and the crowd of Gathering of Eagles in the hundreds. The protesters have claimed that their numbers were closer to 10,000.

I showed up when things were just about completely wound down. I estimate that I only saw a few hundred protestors, so 2000-2500 seems like a very reasonable number for the actual count. It was a really chilly day, with a strong cold wind that cut to the bone, so I am sure that the weather could have played a role in the rather low turn out.

No comments: