This Saturday, October 8, protesters swarmed Freedom Plaza to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the War in Afghanistan. Billing themselves as a sister occupation to “Occupy DC,” these protesters set up tents and proclaimed their intent to stay despite only having a permit to use the Plaza until Sunday. Not satisfied with the media coverage, FrumForum sent this author to the protests. What I found was certainly surprising.
Upon entering Freedom Plaza in the late afternoon, I at first doubted I’d come to the right place due to the presence of a large truck emblazoned with the Coca Cola label at what was allegedly an anti-corporate protest. However, as I soon learned, the truck was actually part of a completely separate exhibition that was taking place on the Plaza at precisely the same time as these protests. The protesters didn’t seem to mind the presence of representatives of their nemeses so close, though. A few even crossed the barricades to partake of some corporate goods before returning.
But then, several protesters were confused about the purpose of this protest. One younger protester who had previously been audibly yelling at her mother that “No buildings in the history of forever have ever collapsed due to fire damage,” told this reporter that “This isn’t Occupy DC. Occupy DC is at McPherson Square. This is ‘Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed.’ And like, it’s against the war.” However, other protesters didn’t seem so sure, as several signs spotted read “End the Fed” and “Corporations are Soylent Green!” One man, holding a sign that read “Arm Yourself Against Fascist Pig! Violence Now” had some choice words for passers by:
“Stand up for your country! Stop being a bunch of sheep! Stop being a bunch of cowardly sheep! Stand up for your country! Abolish the Fed! Better get those guns ready! We’re gonna have our Spring in America soon! We’re gonna have our Spring! Yeah! America ain’t invulnerable to a revolution! America ain’t invulnerable to a revolution! It can happen here! Get caught on the wrong side! Get caught on the wrong side, get caught against the people, and you’ll see what happens! Stand up for your country against these coward-ass politicians! They don’t represent me! Obama don’t represent me, Bush don’t represent me, none of them represent me! This is a protest, this ain’t no tourist walk! This is a protest! This is a revolution taking place!”
These incitements to violence were not universal. The Socialist Workers Party, who declined to be recorded, sported several signs opposing the war. Some protesters were so strongly anti-violent that they even marched on the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and “shut it down” because they felt that some of the exhibits tacitly supported war. Signs could be spotted in a large group of protesters who were marching in circles that read simply, “We love you.” The effect was somewhat spoiled, however, by other signs that read “F**k you, disgusting greedy unconscious mosquitos! You are a virus = We will find the cure!”
Even Ron Paul supporters showed up to the protest – 2 of them, to be precise. One of them told FrumForum that she had voted “straight Democrat” up until 2008, but now thought Obama was a “lying son of a b***h” and wanted to End the Fed and bring the troops home.
However, perhaps the most eloquent statements came from a small group of protesters who had set up signs protesting what they saw as unfair discrimination by the DC police force against skateboarders. “Everyone has a unique story, but we all have similar views. We all want equality, we’re not little people, we are people. I don’t see these people as out-of-towners. I see ‘em as my neighbors, because they’re fighting for the same thing that I’m fighting for, which is the right to fight,” said one of these brave souls.