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Funk the Weekend

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1

Friday, March 19, 2010 marked seven years since the US-led invasion of Iraq, known as Operation Iraqi Freedom.  As has happened in past years, anti-war protesters came out in force to demonstrate in DC against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Additionally, the March for America, a march for comprehensive immigration reform, occurred on the same weekend.

I ended up attending three demonstrations over the course of the weekend.  I attended Funk the War 9: Bad Romance on Friday, ANSWER’s anti-war march on Saturday, and the immigration march on Sunday.  I attended these events with members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), primarily those from Washington DC and Rochester, New York.  The weekend was an amazing opportunity to spend time with the anti-war crowd, and the radical student community.  Over the course of the weekend’s three big demonstrations, we marched together, discussed strategy, hijacked a march, and bonded quite a bit, to the point where we all felt like a family by the time Sunday evening rolled around, and the folks from Rochester had to head back to New York.

I chose the name “Funk the Weekend” for the demonstrations from March 19-21 because while the topics were somewhat diverse, with both opposition to war and comprehensive immigration reform on the agenda over the course of the weekend, the underlying theme was SDS, with their “Funk” themed marches.  The majority of my time was spent with the various SDS chapters that came to Washington, and SDS made sure to make a huge splash with Funk the War on Friday, and then a “Funk Borders Bloc” at the immigration march on Sunday.  Many thanks to the SDSers on Facebook who helped me arrive at this title.


The events that comprised Funk the Weekend began on Friday.  The first demonstration on the weekend’s itinerary was Funk the War 9.  With a Lady Gaga-inspired theme, “Bad Romance“, the demonstration was set to begin at 3 PM from Farragut Square.  I drove down to Wheaton, and took Rohr 1209 from there to Farragut North.

Leaving Farragut North station, I quickly sighted my destination: Farragut Square, where Funk the War 9 was planned to take off.  Coming in, Farragut Square looked mostly like it would on a typical weekday, with office workers from nearby buildings taking time out of their days to relax and enjoy the beautiful day.  The only indication that something big was going to happen was the group of police assembled on the east side of the square, waiting for Funk the War to begin.  I soon spotted my people, finding Missy and Marja, and got into a conversation with them.  We also got into a conversation with MPDC Captain Jeff Herold, who asked us about the march.  We could each honestly answer that we hadn’t a clue, since none of us were involved in the planning for the event.  Herold indicated that the government picked one heck of a day to start the war in Iraq, because March 19 is his birthday.  Thus for the last seven years, rather than being able to kick back on his birthday, Herold has had to attend to anti-war demonstrations on his birthday.


Signs laid out waiting for people to carry them.

Signs laid out waiting for people to carry them.


Lacy MacAuley is interviewed for WJLA-TV, the local ABC affiliate.

Lacy MacAuley is interviewed for WJLA-TV, the local ABC affiliate.


The protest gathers...

The protest gathers…

The protest gathers...


A woman's face is painted with "FUNK WAR" on her cheeks.

A woman’s face is painted with “FUNK WAR” on her cheeks.


Amber is all smiles when she sees me, delighted to find out that she had been on Schumin Web in the March on Crystal City photo set the year before.

Amber is all smiles when she sees me, delighted to find out that she had been on Schumin Web in the March on Crystal City photo set the year before.


Herold (with back to the camera) and crew amongst the demonstrators.

Herold (with back to the camera) and crew amongst the demonstrators.


These two women dressed festively for Funk the War.

These two women dressed festively for Funk the War.


This was also the first march that I’d been to since I signed up for the Twitter.  I was still figuring out how to best use the Twitter, and so in addition to all of the usual stuff that I do in these kinds of marches, I was going to periodically “tweet” updates from my phone.  I ended up posting three tweets to my Twitter feed over the course of the march.

Additionally, this march really reflected the change in the political atmosphere that has occurred since George W. Bush left office.  In past marches of this nature, you usually saw a number of masks on the regulars’ faces.  With a new administration in office, the masks came off for many people.  Full black bloc became less necessary.  Sure, a lot of us still wore all black, but we did without the masks.  For many, including myself, the bandannas never even came out.  Additionally, in a change from my usual protest fashion, I also didn’t wear the black hat that I usually wear at demonstrations, instead wearing the brown gatsby cap that I wear to and from work in colder months.  Now I’m not saying that there weren’t masks in the crowd, but there were a lot less than there used to be.

Of course, half the time, it seems that the people wearing masks don’t quite “get” the whole idea of how to effectively conceal their identity, and not negate their mask’s effectiveness.  For instance, if you cover your face but not your hair, you’ve effectively negated your mask.  Likewise, even if you do cover your hair, if you take your mask off for any appreciable length of time without getting others to provide cover for you, you’ve negated your mask, even if you later put it back on, since the people you’re trying to protect your identity from have had a chance to see what you look like, and possibly film you for later identification as a “troublemaker” or whatever the case may be.  And likewise, deviating significantly from the standard black bloc “uniform” makes one stand out from the crowd and be more identifiable, again negating the mask.  Likewise, any distinctive tattoos, piercings, etc. should probably be covered.  For those who are trying to conceal their identity for whatever reason, one needs to be really careful about making sure it stays hidden, and I’ve seen too many people negate their mask without realizing it.  CrimethInc has a good article about this concept.


Before the march started, everyone kind of milled about in Farragut Square. After all, these marches run on "activist time", where the stated 3:00 start time really means no earlier than 3:30. So I got a chance to look at the various costumes and signage that various Funk the War demonstrators were sporting.  Before the march started, everyone kind of milled about in Farragut Square. After all, these marches run on "activist time", where the stated 3:00 start time really means no earlier than 3:30. So I got a chance to look at the various costumes and signage that various Funk the War demonstrators were sporting.

Before the march started, everyone kind of milled about in Farragut Square.  After all, these marches run on “activist time”, where the stated 3:00 start time really means no earlier than 3:30.  So I got a chance to look at the various costumes and signage that various Funk the War demonstrators were sporting.

Before the march started, everyone kind of milled about in Farragut Square. After all, these marches run on "activist time", where the stated 3:00 start time really means no earlier than 3:30. So I got a chance to look at the various costumes and signage that various Funk the War demonstrators were sporting.


And then eventually, we got going.  We first circled around the center of Farragut Square, and then took to the streets.


Getting the banner out in front, and then getting ready to step off.

Getting the banner out in front, and then getting ready to step off.


Marching out of the square and into the streets.  Marching out of the square and into the streets.

Marching out of the square and into the streets.


Rachel and Adam, among others, ran the sound system, ensuring that our mobile dance party had proper dancing music.  Rachel and Adam, among others, ran the sound system, ensuring that our mobile dance party had proper dancing music.

Rachel and Adam, among others, ran the sound system, ensuring that our mobile dance party had proper dancing music.

Rachel and Adam, among others, ran the sound system, ensuring that our mobile dance party had proper dancing music.


Marching in the street, with the festive atmosphere of the march quite evident.


Marching past a parked car.

Marching past a parked car.


Our first target was the Project for the New American Century, at 1150 17th Street NW, at the intersection of 17th and M Streets NW.  I know the building best for its housing a UPS Store at street level, which I have used in the past for work-related shipping.  We demonstrated outside the building for a few minutes, and then continued on, still in the street.


Outside of the Project for a New American Century.

Outside of the Project for a New American Century.

Outside of the Project for a New American Century.



Continuing, our march took us south one block and then east.  We ended up on the 1300 block of L Street, which contains an Armed Forces Recruitment Center on its south side, in the Franklin Court building.  There, things went peacefully for a while, with the Funk the War crowd out in the street, and the cops on the sidewalk preventing people from entering the building.


Continuing on from the Project for a New American Century, on the way to the recruitment center.

Continuing on from the Project for a New American Century, on the way to the recruitment center.

Continuing on from the Project for a New American Century, on the way to the recruitment center.

Continuing on from the Project for a New American Century, on the way to the recruitment center.  Continuing on from the Project for a New American Century, on the way to the recruitment center.

Continuing on from the Project for a New American Century, on the way to the recruitment center.



Handing off the camera to a masked demonstrator, and then... taking a picture!

Handing off the camera to a masked demonstrator, and then… taking a picture!

Handing off the camera to a masked demonstrator, and then... taking a picture!


Chicken suit!

Chicken suit!


Arriving at the recruitment center...

Arriving at the recruitment center…

Arriving at the recruitment center...


Cops blocking off the entrance to the recruitment center.  Cops blocking off the entrance to the recruitment center.

Cops blocking off the entrance to the recruitment center.


A woman's bicycle carries a sign with the classic phrase, "Bombing for peace is like f---ing for virginity".

A woman’s bicycle carries a sign with the classic phrase, “Bombing for peace is like f—ing for virginity”.


Demonstrating outside the recruitment center.  Demonstrating outside the recruitment center.

Demonstrating outside the recruitment center.


And documenting the demonstration for posterity.

And documenting the demonstration for posterity.


And then someone threw a glass container filled with yellow paint (commonly referred to as a “paint bomb”) at the building.  It struck the window, leaving a large splat of paint on the window.  That changed the entire tone of the demonstration.  The cops quickly located the alleged thrower, and arrested him.  Meanwhile, MPDC Captain Jeff Herold, using a bullhorn, declared our march an unlawful assembly and everyone was forced out of the street.  I, being a few years older than most of the demonstrators, and looking a bit older than them as well, was allowed to get out of the street on my own without being hurried or pushed, though the only place where I had space to get onto the sidewalk was by going into a small patch of flowers by a tree.


As the person who allegedly threw the paint is arrested, Herold declares the march an unlawful assembly and orders everyone out of the street.


Paint on the recruitment center's window.

Paint on the recruitment center’s window.


Standing in the flowers. My sincerest apologies to whoever's work I just trampled. Believe me when I say that I would have avoided the flowers if I was able to.

Standing in the flowers.  My sincerest apologies to whoever’s work I just trampled.  Believe me when I say that I would have avoided the flowers if I was able to.


It is worth noting here that while Herold did declare the demonstration unlawful, he did not order the demonstration to disperse, as has been done for previous declarations of an unlawful assembly, such as at the Georgetown march during October Rebellion, and the nighttime phase of the G20 demonstrations.  The march was allowed to continue intact, however, we were no longer allowed to march in the street.

Honestly, the paint at the recruiter’s office really did more harm than good as far as the demonstration went.  It changed the mood of the demonstration, and Funk the War demonstrations are often fairly calm events, with the emphasis on having a good time while protesting the wars.  Now the cops had reason to believe that we were up to no good, and treated us as such.  Additionally, by the choice of yellow paint, any symbolism in the act was removed.  If the paint were red, then at least it would have symbolized blood, which would have made sense at an anti-war protest.  With the paint’s being yellow, it just looked like petty vandalism, and gave Funk the War a bad name.  All that came of it was an arrest and a declaration of unlawful assembly.


A second demonstrator was also detained at this point, allegedly for putting a sticker on a car. While the crowd shouted "Let Kris go!" the demonstrator was given a citation and released back into the crowd.

A second demonstrator was also detained at this point, allegedly for putting a sticker on a car.  While the crowd shouted “Let Kris go!” the demonstrator was given a citation and released back into the crowd.


“LET KRIS GO!  LET KRIS GO!”


Kris is released back into the crowd after receiving a citation.  Kris is released back into the crowd after receiving a citation.

Kris is released back into the crowd after receiving a citation.


Police activity in the street after the demonstrators were moved to the sidewalk.  Police activity in the street after the demonstrators were moved to the sidewalk.

Police activity in the street after the demonstrators were moved to the sidewalk.

Police activity in the street after the demonstrators were moved to the sidewalk.  Police activity in the street after the demonstrators were moved to the sidewalk.


Lacy MacAuley shouts while at the recruitment center.

Lacy MacAuley shouts while at the recruitment center.


Leaving the recruitment center, we headed west, on the sidewalk.  The march was still pretty festive, and while one of our people had been arrested (and admittedly for doing something kind of dumb), we were pleased that Kris had not been arrested.


Underway again, now on the sidewalk.  Underway again, now on the sidewalk.

Underway again, now on the sidewalk.

Underway again, now on the sidewalk.  Underway again, now on the sidewalk.

Underway again, now on the sidewalk.  Underway again, now on the sidewalk.


Leaving anarchy signs on the sidewalk in chalk.

Leaving anarchy signs on the sidewalk in chalk.


On the way to our next target, one person commented to Herold about how they weren’t being permitted to march in the street, and that they were “just kids”.  Herold had a snappy response to that one, saying, “Children who throw things have to stay on the sidewalk.”

We eventually ended up at the United States Chamber of Commerce, where, in repeat-after-me form, the group read a breakup letter outside the building.


Reading the breakup letter.


From there, we headed south into Lafayette Park, still taking great care to remain on the sidewalk.  We turned left onto Pennsylvania Avenue, passing by a row of tourists.  In typical form, many in the group encouraged the tourists to join us.  After all, what better way to experience a trip to Washington than to see democracy in action?  Flex that First Amendment, yo.


Underway again, heading into Lafayette Park.

Underway again, heading into Lafayette Park.


Adam Eidinger speaks into the microphone on the sound system.

Adam Eidinger speaks into the microphone on the sound system.


Going past the row of tourists.  Going past the row of tourists.

Going past the row of tourists.

Going past the row of tourists.


Marching past the line of tourists in Lafayette Park, and encouraging them to join our march.


A woman gets up on a man's shoulders, specifically reproducing an action seen at Funk the War 8.

A woman gets up on a man’s shoulders, specifically reproducing an action seen at Funk the War 8.


Still underway, near the east end of the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Still underway, near the east end of the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Still underway, near the east end of the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.


We eventually ended up on the east side of the Treasury Building.

We eventually ended up on the east side of the Treasury Building.


At the Treasury Building, two demonstrators managed to gain access to a second-story ledge, where they unfurled a banner.  That certainly took guts to do, but they managed it.  They initially were near the north end of the building, and later moved south toward the center of the building.


 



The two people on the ledge led a second repeat-after-me message, this one apparently unscripted.


Speaking from the ledge.

Speaking from the ledge.

Speaking from the ledge.


Demonstrators on the ground watch the two people on the ledge.

Demonstrators on the ground watch the two people on the ledge.


Awesome outfit, no?

Awesome outfit, no?


Meanwhile, MPDC officers guard the building, making sure no one else goes up and joins them.  Meanwhile, MPDC officers guard the building, making sure no one else goes up and joins them.

Meanwhile, MPDC officers guard the building, making sure no one else goes up and joins them.


An MPDC officer explains to a Secret Service officer about how the people got up on the ledge.

An MPDC officer explains to a Secret Service officer about how the people got up on the ledge.


Still on the ledge, in the second location further down.

Still on the ledge, in the second location further down.


Eventually, the two demonstrators were arrested.  The two were grabbed from behind by a group of officers, handcuffed, and led into the Treasury Building through a window.  Their banner was confiscated as well.


Arrested!

Arrested!


Reaction on the ground to the arrest of the demonstrators on the ledge.


On the sidewalk outside the Treasury Building, what was a roving demonstration turned into a sit-in.  With the two demonstrators arrested, people just basically sat down where they were.  I personally am not a big fan of impromptu sit-ins, because it usually means that the demonstration is going to lose its energy.  This one kind of started to do that, as some people started to leave.  It did, however, liven up for a bit, as some people got up and began dancing down the line of people, with musical accompaniment typical of a Funk the War demonstration.


The sit-in is underway outside the Treasury Building.  The sit-in is underway outside the Treasury Building.

The sit-in is underway outside the Treasury Building.

The sit-in is underway outside the Treasury Building.  The sit-in is underway outside the Treasury Building.

The sit-in is underway outside the Treasury Building.  The sit-in is underway outside the Treasury Building.


A woman gives the peace sign for the camera.

A woman gives the peace sign for the camera.


Dancing!  Dancing!

Dancing!


The situation with the police was a little bit uncertain, as a demonstrator was arrested for what we believed was just for trying to enter the area where the demonstration was taking place. From what I gathered, people were free to leave (i.e. we weren't trapped), but at the same time, once one left, one could not return.

The situation with the police was a little bit uncertain, as a demonstrator was arrested for what we believed was just for trying to enter the area where the demonstration was taking place.  From what I gathered, people were free to leave (i.e. we weren’t trapped), but at the same time, once one left, one could not return.


Police officers on horses in the street next to the sidewalk we were demonstrating on.

Police officers on horses in the street next to the sidewalk we were demonstrating on.


Talking to Herold outside the Treasury Building.  Note how Herold periodically looks over at the camera.  Keeping the cameras constantly rolling hopefully keeps the police on better behavior than they otherwise might.


The sit-in continued as the sun started to go down.  This is where I finally made the determination that I was done for the day.  The demonstration was not likely to go beyond the sit-in, and who knew how long it would last.  So for me, I called it.  I was done.  I said my goodbyes and my see-you-tomorrows, and headed out.  I ended up walking east towards Metro Center.  I stopped near the station for a smoothie, and then headed into the station, where I caught Breda 3245 for the ride back to Wheaton.  When I got home, I downloaded my pictures from the memory card to the computer, put my batteries on the charger, and uploaded my movies to YouTube.

And then, with the videos up and a Journal entry written about the event, I called it a night.  My weekend of activism wasn’t over yet by any means, but in order to keep going, I needed to get some sleep…

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1