A16… and what a day it was!

13 minute read

April 17, 2005, 10:15 PM

April 16, 2005 was definitely an interesting day for all involved. It was on this day that a large demonstration against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund was planned. As is the usual case with days that I go to big demonstrations, I fit the trip into the framework of my regular trips to Washington DC that I make every two weeks or so. The big difference on this trip, though, was that I took my sister with me. I normally don’t take anyone with me when I go on my DC trips. It’s just me. Last time I took anyone to DC with me was when Mom and Sis and I went to Washington DC on August 9, 2003, when we did my A Day in DC photo set. Since then, I’d met both Dad and Mom on trips to Washington DC in April 2004 and July 2004 respectively, but since our agendas were so different, each made their way up to DC separately.

So at the early hour of 5 AM, Sis and I set off for Washington DC, but not before the car gave us trouble starting up. Don’t know what caused that, since it was working fine the day before, and also worked fine on the rest of the trip. So who knows. On the way up, we made my usual stops – one at the Sheetz in Mt. Jackson, and once at Wal-Mart in Manassas. Sis got to give the self-checkouts in Manassas a whirl, and we got a shot of that:

Giving the self checkout a whirl

Traffic in the DC area, being a Saturday, was light, and we arrived at Vienna at 8:30 AM, which was earlier than I expected, but it still worked out. So Sis and I bought our farecards, and caught the railfan window of Breda 3086 on our way to Rosslyn.

At Rosslyn, since we were so ahead of schedule, we compensated. Any good schedule has provisions for where to compensate for earliness. So after considering our options, and since the Express isn’t published on the weekends, we had to decide what to do. Sis had the idea of going to visit Freedom Park, which I’ve visited twice before – once in March 2002 while doing my Freedom Is Not Free photo set, and once in November 2002 with Mom and Sis on the way back from the Iwo Jima Memorial. So we started at one end, and worked our way through, past the Journalists’ Memorial, past the various symbols of freedom, and finally past the sections of the Berlin Wall.

I think of all the things there, seeing the Journalists' Memorial in the bright sunlight was perhaps the best view of all. The colored glass also left an interesting effect on the sidewalks nearby.
I think of all the things there, seeing the Journalists’ Memorial in the bright sunlight was perhaps the best view of all. The colored glass also left an interesting effect on the sidewalks nearby.

After that, we swung around past the hole in the ground that was formerly 1117 North 19th Street and will be turned into the Waterview, and back to Rosslyn Center. As it was still really early, we took a walk in the other direction, across the skywalk network. We ended up about two blocks away from Rosslyn Center, at the end of the skywalks. There were some tables there, and we sat and made conversation. Then as it was getting towards the time to go to the demonstration, which would be starting at Murrow Park at noon, we headed back over to Rosslyn Center, and then to the train. As I wanted to get there early, we headed into the station at around 11:15, and rode a Breda rehab over to Farragut West.

There, it was a short walk to Murrow Park, across the street from the World Bank, where the rally, sponsored by the Mobilization for Global Justice and the Jubilee USA Network, was already underway at 11:30.

Arriving at Murrow Park, Sis immediately found people selling buttons and such, and bought some. I, meanwhile, checked out the area, which is my usual practice at these kinds of events. I was also pleased to see that unlike in the fall, when a huge area around the World Bank was barricaded off with large, black fences, with Murrow Park penned in on three sides, this time it was far less intense, using smaller crowd-control barriers around the building itself.

Finding black bloc demonstrators already present in significant numbers, I asked Sis, “Are you ready to join the black bloc?” and passed her a bandanna, which she then proceeded to wear on top of her head, which I then questioned. I “masked up” in the normal style of black blocs. Sis’s comment was twofold. First was that she was being a nonconformist among the nonconformists, and second, that I looked like Jesse James! That was interesting, indeed. So this is Sis:

Sis wore that bandanna on her head, and kept it there, being a nonconformist among the nonconformists.

So Sis and I wandered around for a while, each of us taking photos of things we found interesting. I led the way, and Sis followed nearby. Some of the more noticeable features right up front were people wearing cardboard cylinders on their heads, that had a face painted on them as well as top hats with the name of a company on it. There were also large street puppets out and about with messages on them.

A woman wears one of the cardboard cylinders with top hats.  This particular top hat says "Exxon" on it, while others said "Halliburton", "Nike", "Lockheed Martin", etc.  This particular street puppet, with a likeness of George W. Bush on one side, and a skull on the other, makes another appearance at a demonstration, having made a previous appearance at J20.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Murrow Park, there were all sorts of signs and banners present, covering the World Bank and IMF issue from a number of different angles. Some demonstrators carried flags. One group of three wore business suits and vampire fangs, painted their faces white, and carried large black umbrellas, pretending to be some of the World Bank’s leaders. A woman dressed up as “Georgia Bush”, which basically was a woman wearing a dress, a red sash, and a rubber George W. Bush mask. She also carried a sign saying “Georgia Corporate Whore”.

And then, amongst the crowds at the park, you know who I ran into? Jess! Yes, Jess whom I originally met at the Million Worker March back in October.

Nearly six months to the day we first met, Jess and I meet again.

I also introduced Jess to my sister, and we talked for a few minutes before parting company for now, basically catching up with each other since the Million Worker March. We would meet up again twice more.

After Jess and I parted company, I did some more exploring and photographing. Another Black Bloc demonstrator asked Sis and I if we were planning on engaging in any direct actions, to which we replied no. Turns out that no one was planning direct actions today, which was a good thing.

This gentleman and I also talked a bit about how they had identified two people as undercover officers and to be mindful of that. They were easiest identified by their Washington Nationals hats. That led to a short discussion about how the Nationals appear to be trying to milk Washington for every penny they can get, what with public financing for the stadium, and not paying for extra Metro service if games run long. This, boys and girls, is known as “corporate welfare”. Now if you’ve paid attention to what I’ve been involved in lately, I follow transit issues in Washington closely. I also have followed the politics of the Expos’ move to Washington DC, which turned them into the Nationals. My position on baseball in Washington has always been that I’m fully supportive of having baseball in Washington, but not if it means DC is selling its soul for Major League Baseball. Best example is what I described – the Nationals’ not paying for extra Metro service, instead choosing to simply announce when Metro is about to close, leaving Metro to pick up the tab for extra service. For those of you not familiar, when Metro needs to run extra service due to special events, such as for Redskins games, Metro bills the organization requiring extra service for the cost of the extra service, minus the amount collected in fares during that time.

Later, Sis and I briefly parted company at the rally so that she could use the restroom. I wondered where she would go to find the restroom, since I’d explained it was kind of bad form to be seen leaving an anti-globalization rally to go to Starbucks. When she came back, I found out where she went. She was carrying a little brown bag that said “Starbucks Coffee” on it and eating some little thing she got there.  Of course, at my first big demonstration, I might have done the same thing, since I went into that one completely cold turkey. I provided Sis with literature beforehand, but nothing compares as far as learning how these things work than to actually go to a demonstration.

Not long after Sis came back, we ran into Jess once more at the other end of the park, as she was getting her bicycle. She was going to bike the march route, out in front. At that time, the two of us spotted two things. One, there was a police officer filming the park from the street with a camcorder. That irked us both. Of course, this is part of the reason why Jess and I were both wearing masks at this demonstration. We also spotted a group of three people on the roof of the World Bank building in business suits watching us from above.

After Jess undid her bike, she went ahead and got going with her bike. She and I quickly shared a brief hug, and she was off. Meanwhile, Sis and I took a moment to see some of the speakers at the stage, and I filmed a few of the speeches.

Later, as the march was getting ready to begin, a group of counter-protesters showed up. This was not the Free Republic group (better known as Freepers) this time. This time it was a group of pro-lifers, carrying signs advertising the American Life League. These people were chased off by the police, as a confrontation was already going on between our demonstration and the counter-protesters. I personally found it odd for them to be demonstrating about abortion at an event about globalization. I know that last year, the weekend of the World Bank and IMF’s spring meetings was a double-punch for activists, with the World Bank demonstrations and the March for Women’s Lives in the same weekend, on back-to-back days. This time around, though, globalization was the only issue for the weekend.

And then the march got underway. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra started playing, and we were off!

And the group turns its back on the World Bank, as we leave Murrow Park for Dupont Circle.

It seemed contrary to what one would expect, but in our march, which met up at Murrow Park across the street from the World Bank, we marched away from the World Bank up to Dupont Circle. One would think we’d start at Dupont Circle and march to the World Bank, but this ended up working out, too.

The march took us up 18th Street NW, which we followed all the way up to Massachusetts Avenue NW. Here, we made a big left turn, and took Massachusetts Avenue to Dupont Circle. Before entering Dupont Circle however, we marched around the circle, and then turned to arrive at our destination.

During the march, various chants took place. People said, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”, “Whose streets? Our streets!”, “What do we want? Cancel the debt! When do we want it? Now!”, “Drop the debt!”, as well as others.

At Dupont Circle, another rally took place. This one was more light-hearted, with topical poetry and song being the main focus, rather than speeches. I also ran into a group of radical cheerleaders doing a cheer. I love watching radical cheerleaders in action. Such enthusiasm and such talent.

After they finished, I waited to see if they would do another. After waiting a bit, I asked if they would do another one, and they did. Awesome! I got the whole thing on film, too, with Big Mavica.

And who chimed in at the end of the cheer from behind? None other than Jess, who had completed her bike ride out in front and made it to Dupont Circle. Jess had done her ride with the police taunting her, with them telling her to take off her mask, because people would mistake her for being a guy, and that she would get a funky sun tan. Jess and I also discussed about how loud we can get at these things. I admitted that while I thought I had a big, loud mouth, Jess definitely has got me beaten.

Afterwards, Jess and I parted company, and she rode off into the proverbial sunset. Perhaps we’ll run into each other once again…

Sis and I then walked around and photographed more signs, banners, and interesting outfits. We also saw that same police officer from before, now at Dupont Circle, filming everyone and everything. As I said, that really irks me. Take a look:

The police officer films demonstrators from the center of Dupont Circle.  I remember that on J20, the black bloc had the center of the park, since we got there first.  The police set up around the perimeter.  This time, since Dupont Circle was part of a predetermined permitted march, the police got dibs on the center.  Still, with the officer filming using his Canon camcorder, that just irritated me...

I also ran into the girl on the right in this picture, whom I remembered from the Million Worker March. We talked for a moment, and I shared my URL with her, as a photo of her was used in the set, and she also shows up in the movie of the feeder march.

Then, after the other person and us parted company, Sis and I both agreed we’d had quite a time, and so we sat down on a bench and rested, deciding that we’d seen it, and we were ready to go. So I undid all my Black Bloc finery, and we proceeded to find somewhere to use the restroom. We ended up going to a nearby Subway, where I could change into something else and use the restroom (I had perspired a bit during the march).

After that, we discussed where to go to get something to eat, and we headed over to the Dupont Circle Metro station, since we decided to go to L’Enfant Deli, a local deli outside the L’Enfant Plaza station. It kind of reminded me of the time at the Million Worker March when Jess, the other guy, and I stopped at the street vendor near the Hotel Washington for drinks. So Sis and I followed that same line of thought when we supported another small business.

So we took the Red Line to Gallery Place-Chinatown, and then the Green Line to L’Enfant Plaza. There we got food at L’Enfant Deli, and ate outside. Coming back in, I decided to walk the escalator rather than ride it. This is why the unwritten rule of the escalator is “Stand to the right”. This way, people can walk to the left. A gentleman was standing on the left side of the escalator, while the rest of his group was standing right. I said, “Sir, please stand to the right.” The gentleman moved right over, and I didn’t even have to stop walking. Sis apologized to the person for me, since she thought what I did was rude. I thought I was being quite polite, using “Sir” and “Please”. I think my tone was misinterpreted, but it still worked.

After this, we headed up to the Mt. Vernon Square/7th Street-Convention Center station, and headed over to the Infoshop. I wasn’t sure what Sis would think of the Infoshop, but she ended up liking it! We shared our own stories about the A16 demonstration, checked DC Indymedia to see if anything was up yet, and also talked with others who had come over after the demonstration. We also talked to a person there about various stuff related to politics and such, and then headed on out.

We headed back to the Mt. Vernon Square station, and then determined that we might as well go visit Freedom Plaza again in Northwest DC. We figured it would be a nice, quiet place to take a few moments in the middle of a busy city. Surprise!

Freedom Plaza was hopping! Turns out that it was a festival celebrating DC Emancipation Day. Neat…

After taking a quick look-see, Sis and I then headed across the street to the area right outside Federal Triangle, next to the Reagan Building. There, a bunch of Mickey Mouse sculptures were on display, similar to the pandas that were on display all over town. However, these Mickey Mouse sculptures were all right here in one place, and were commissioned by celebrities for the charities of their choice. The pandas, on the other hand, were done by local artists in the Washington DC area. Still, that didn’t stop us from looking, and Sis got her picture taken with the Elton John-themed Mickey:

Sis poses with the Elton John-themed Mickey outside the Reagan Building.

From there, we got an eight-car train at Federal Triangle and rode to L’Enfant Plaza, where we transferred to Yellow to ride to Pentagon City. There, we headed through the mall, and went over to Pentagon Row, where we were supposed to meet a friend of mine whom I’d been trying to call all day to confirm plans. The friend was for some reason unreachable all day, and so after 20 minutes of trying and killing time, we cancelled that and went back into the mall.

At the mall, Sis and I determined that we might as well split up for a bit, after she said to me, “So do you want to go shopping, or are you just going to be a MAN?” I was not particularly in the mood for shopping, since I’d been running around all day, and wasn’t planning on spending much at the mall. Plus I’d been dragging her around all day anyway. Truth be told, I spend most of my Pentagon City time outside at some tables near the parking garage, while my brain devours an entire Washington Post. So I showed Sis where I would be, said I’d call if I was moving elsewhere in the mall, and then got a paper and a smoothie and enjoyed my newspaper.

When Sis came back, we were ready to leave Pentagon City, and I still wanted to show Sis the Exeloo at Huntington. So we took the Yellow Line out to Huntington, where she got to see the Exeloo, and also posed for a shot in front of it. I’m such a nerd for getting this one…

Sis poses with the Exeloo at Huntington.  This also marks another milestone in Sis's Metro experience.  She has now ridden the entire length of the Yellow Line, though not in one trip.

From there, we took the Yellow Line to King Street to transfer to the Blue Line. There, I pointed out things to do in Alexandria, such as visiting Old Town, or going to the top of the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Then we caught our Blue Line train to Rosslyn, and transferred to the Orange Line. We ended up catching another eight-car train there to ride out to Vienna. Metro was running some eight-car trains on the Orange Line on this particular evening due to the Washington Nationals game that was happening that evening.

An eight-car train at Rosslyn.  You can tell it's eight cars by the fact that it's pulled all the way up to the tunnel portal.  Normally, four-car and six-car trains center themselves on the platform, leaving space at both ends.  Eight-car trains fill the entire length of the platform.
An eight-car train at Rosslyn. You can tell it’s eight cars by the fact that it’s pulled all the way up to the tunnel portal. Normally, four-car and six-car trains center themselves on the platform, leaving space at both ends. Eight-car trains fill the entire length of the platform.

And then upon arriving at Vienna, we headed back home! What a day it was, too. I was sore from it, but we had so much fun, and Sis also had her first big demonstration in Washington. And she took a nap for half the trip. All in all, though, I’d do the whole day again in a heartbeat.

Web site: Photo gallery from A16 on Sis and I aren't in any of the photos, but there are two of Jess in there...

Song: "Operation Iraqi Liberation! O... I... L..." (Lyrics and MP3 here)

Quote: "Do you want to take my car?" - Sis when my car had some difficulty starting up at the start of the trip. And as I said, the car worked the whole rest of the trip.