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Million Worker March

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1

On October 17, 2004, I traveled to Washington DC once again, this time for the Million Worker March.  The Million Worker March was a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, sponsored by labor unions and attended by approximately 10,000 people.  The topic was workers’ rights, an end to job outsourcing, and universal health care, among others.  There was also a strong anti-war flavor to the whole effort, as many of our nation’s young men and women are still out fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That message came packaged as the familiar call of “Bring the troops home now”.  Additionally, there were two marches to and from the main event.  One was an anarchist feeder march, where approximately 100 people marched from the headquarters of the AFL-CIO (which neither sponsored nor endorsed the Million Worker March) to the Lincoln Memorial, by way of the World Bank.  Another was a breakaway march, where “a few hundred” people (per The Washington Post) marched to the Hotel Washington to show support for the hotel’s workers, who were on the verge of going on strike due to a contract dispute.  All in all, it was a great event, and a whole lot of fun.

I present this event to you in a “hybrid” format like I did for my Virginia Beach vacation photo set, meaning I’m going to jump back and forth between text narrative and photo set.  The narrative text is an adaptation of a Journal entry about the Million Worker March, originally written on October 19, 2004.  So check it out, and see the events of my day at the Million Worker March as I saw it in words, pictures, and video footage.


All I have to say was that I had fun at the Million Worker March, an event to bring the plight of workers into the spotlight.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I’d been planning on attending the Million Worker March in Washington DC for some time – since about July or August, I want to say.  Now I research these events way ahead of time to find out what is planned in and around these events and keep a tab in any new developments.  Then I set my agenda based on what I find out as the date approaches.  In this case, I found out a few things ahead of time.  Number one was that there would be no actual official march like on June 5 or previous events that I’d been to.  I also learned that there would be an anarchist feeder march meeting up at 16th and Eye Streets NW, a block away from McPherson Square station, in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters (an organization that did not sponsor the Million Worker March).  I also learned that it would also be embraced by anti-war groups.  As you know, I am very much anti-war.  So anti-war lent a familiar touch to an otherwise new topic to me.

So my plan was to basically join up with the anarchists for the day.  I’d start out with the anarchist feeder march and join the main rally that way.  Then in the main rally, stay with them.  Basically, the idea was to follow my June 5 strategy, where I joined a small black bloc for the duration of the event.  The people in that group were my soul mates for the day, and it worked out really well.

This time, it was mostly successful once again.  I also made sure not to repeat the biggest mistake I made during the June 5 march.  That was in packing Big Mavica, my real digital camera, in my backpack, and instead using my cell phone as the main camera.  My rationale for packing Big Mavica was that it would be too much for actually participating in a march, vs. staying on the sidelines like I did on April 13, 2003 (A Protest Against the War).  So for the Million Worker March, I kept a supply of CDs on a spindle in my pocket, and kept Big Mavica loaded and around my neck, where it belongs.  The phone was packed in the backpack, and considering how much hunting I did in my bag to find it again later, I packed it pretty deeply in there.

Now let me tell you this up front.  At the time, I did not really consider myself an anarchist.  I considered myself a left-wing moderate and a major pacifist.  However, when it cames to marches, I would go with the anarchists.  It just seems to be a good match for me.  Everyone’s on equal footing there, based on the theoretical underpinnings of anarchism.  And they’re a pretty welcoming bunch.  So I went with them.  And I really enjoy their company.

At the meet-up site for the feeder march, people were making noise through drums, both real and makeshift.  The makeshift drums were primarily large buckets that had rope or string tied around them to make them suitable for beating with some kind of drum-stick (also usually makeshift).

I also encountered Radical Cheerleaders for the first time in person.  Radical cheerleading is best described as cheerleading with a far-left political twist.  Plus the participants’ outfits are designed to be loud, and look a bit rough by design.  I will tell you this, they definitely make an impression on you, which means that their mission is quite successful.


The radical cheerleaders in action:

The radical cheerleaders in action.  The radical cheerleaders in action.

The radical cheerleaders in action.  The radical cheerleaders in action.

The radical cheerleaders in action.  The radical cheerleaders in action.

The radical cheerleaders in action.


All in all, they were a very spirited group.  The group seen here is known as the Resistin’ Radicatz.  Another good Web site about radical cheerleading, with a bunch of cheers listed, one simply called Radical Cheerleaders.

Many people there, including myself, were dressed in all black.  Many were also ready to use the black bloc tactic if the situation arose.  Lots of black and red-and-black flags were waving in the air, carried by protesters.  According to The Washington Post, there were about 100 people in attendance at the feeder march.


Participants in the feeder march wait to cross the street at the opposite corner of 16th and Eye Streets, and then held up their "Our dreams will never fit in their ballot boxes" banner for all to see while crossing.

Participants in the feeder march wait to cross the street at the opposite corner of 16th and Eye Streets, and then held up their “Our dreams will never fit in their ballot boxes” banner for all to see while crossing.

Participants in the feeder march wait to cross the street at the opposite corner of 16th and Eye Streets, and then held up their "Our dreams will never fit in their ballot boxes" banner for all to see while crossing.


A person waves while wearing a George W. Bush mask, and t-shirt featuring an image of George W. Bush and the words "International Terrorist".  The Bush mask had some of the teeth modified to look like fangs, and had fake blood below the mouth.  Additionally, the person's hands were covered with fake blood.  Reminds me of the "Bloody Hands" sign shown at the anti-war procession on October 2.

A person waves while wearing a George W. Bush mask, and t-shirt featuring an image of George W. Bush and the words “International Terrorist”.  The Bush mask had some of the teeth modified to look like fangs, and had fake blood below the mouth.  Additionally, the person’s hands were covered with fake blood.  Reminds me of the “Bloody Hands” sign shown at the anti-war procession on October 2.


Participants in the feeder march beat on makeshift drums and shout at the meet-up location outside AFL-CIO headquarters.

Participants in the feeder march beat on makeshift drums and shout at the meet-up location outside AFL-CIO headquarters.


Now the feeder march that the anarchist group participated in was unpermitted, as in that no permit was obtained to have the march.  That made it quite interesting.  You have a good-sized large group of people, around 100 according to The Washington Post, marching in the streets.  DC Metropolitan Police knew that a feeder march would be occurring, but not exactly where it was going, so they couldn’t prepare ahead like for marches where a permit had been obtained.  It was fitting, too, as we marched right into traffic on our way to the Lincoln Memorial, where the main rally was being held.  Cars were literally stopped in their tracks, as a bunch of black-clad protesters passed by them.  Some drivers expressed support for the movement, while others were noticeably upset over a group deliberately blocking traffic.  As with any political protest event, there were people distributing literature, and I definitely got my fair share of literature passed to me, which I saved.  People were also passing out literature to the drivers of the cars we’d blocked, which I thought was neat.  Police attempts to shift the marchers from the street to the sidewalk failed, both by vehicular movements where cars and bikes tried to corral the marchers to where they wanted them, and by direct announcements where they said, “If you do not have a march permit, you must be on the sidewalk.”  So to ensure the safety of both the marchers (i.e. us) and drivers, police blocked off streets so that we could safely pass through, all the while with people in the group yelling the always-popular “WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!” chant, along with a number of others.

The route took us to the Lincoln Memorial, by way of the World Bank, George Washington University, Constitution Avenue, and the Vietnam Memorial.  A few people in the march pointed out the location of the World Bank, with one shouting, “There’s the World Bank!” which, two weeks ago, had become the target of protesters once again over third world debt cancellation during their meetings.  The Photography set Day of Activism covers the events at the World Bank, as well as an anti-war march that occurred on the same day.  But that’s besides the point here.  We passed by George Washington University really only out of necessity – the campus is right next to the World Bank.


Walking down the streets of Northwest DC at the anarchist feeder march.  I’m not sure of where this location is specifically, but I do know that it is beyond the World Bank on our route.


Then we hit Constitution Avenue, meeting it at 17th Street.  We crossed behind the Vietnam Memorial from a distance (the wall itself was not visible to us because of our location), and then there we were, at the Lincoln Memorial, site of the Million Worker March.


Participants in the anarchist feeder march after arriving at the main Million Worker March event.  As you can see, some danced, some beat makeshift drums, and all in all had a merry time.


From there, the group kind of split up.  I first went up to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with part of the march group, where I sat down for a bit to listen to the speeches, and talk with some of the other people in the group.  I also saw some familiar faces, interestingly enough.  Remember this girl, who I quickly interviewed with on-the-fly questions in April 2003?  She was there.  I recognized her voice, and we talked.  I gave her my Web site URL and encouraged her to visit my site to see the interview clip.


Perhaps the best views of the Million Worker March came from the Lincoln Memorial.  There, you could see the cameras filming the event, and also crowds around the Lincoln Memorial, both near my vantage point near the top of the steps, but also far off below at the reflecting pool.  Additionally, the Washington Monument was in the background, reminding people of exactly where we are.

Perhaps the best views of the Million Worker March came from the Lincoln Memorial.  There, you could see the cameras filming the event, and also crowds around the Lincoln Memorial, both near my vantage point near the top of the steps, but also far off below at the reflecting pool.  Additionally, the Washington Monument was in the background, reminding people of exactly where we are.


The steps of the Lincoln Memorial were no less than packed, with all sorts of people parked to hear the speakers just in front of them.  From this location, however, it was difficult to actually see the speakers, due to the presence of a large banner in front of us.  The steps of the Lincoln Memorial were no less than packed, with all sorts of people parked to hear the speakers just in front of them.  From this location, however, it was difficult to actually see the speakers, due to the presence of a large banner in front of us.

The steps of the Lincoln Memorial were no less than packed, with all sorts of people parked to hear the speakers just in front of them.  From this location, however, it was difficult to actually see the speakers, due to the presence of a large banner in front of us.


Behind the speaker's area, all sorts of people, with some wearing union-related apparel, others wearing more activist-style clothing (note the yellow "Free Mumia" shirt in the right-side photo), and some carrying flags, used the area as a sort of passageway from one side to the other.  Park Police also kept an eye on the group on the steps from that location.  Behind the speaker's area, all sorts of people, with some wearing union-related apparel, others wearing more activist-style clothing (note the yellow "Free Mumia" shirt in the right-side photo), and some carrying flags, used the area as a sort of passageway from one side to the other.  Park Police also kept an eye on the group on the steps from that location.

Behind the speaker’s area, all sorts of people, with some wearing union-related apparel, others wearing more activist-style clothing (note the yellow “Free Mumia” shirt in the right-side photo), and some carrying flags, used the area as a sort of passageway from one side to the other.  Park Police also kept an eye on the group on the steps from that location.


The large banner blocking the view of the speakers was the official Million Worker March banner, which had the movement's logo on it (four hands holding onto each other), and large text reading, "Repeal the Taft-Hartley [Act]".

The large banner blocking the view of the speakers was the official Million Worker March banner, which had the movement’s logo on it (four hands holding onto each other), and large text reading, “Repeal the Taft-Hartley [Act]“.


Cameras were strategically placed all around the speaker's area, mostly on platforms in order to get a clear view.

Cameras were strategically placed all around the speaker’s area, mostly on platforms in order to get a clear view.


As you can see, this was a well-attended event, with roughly 10,000 people in attendance.  However, despite this large turnout, it missed the organizers' mark by a large margin.  The organizers expected attendance to be closer to 100,000.  As you can see, this was a well-attended event, with roughly 10,000 people in attendance.  However, despite this large turnout, it missed the organizers' mark by a large margin.  The organizers expected attendance to be closer to 100,000.

As you can see, this was a well-attended event, with roughly 10,000 people in attendance.  However, despite this large turnout, it missed the organizers’ mark by a large margin.  The organizers expected attendance to be closer to 100,000.


This rather well-dressed woman appears to have been part of the Billionaires For Bush group, which is actually an anti-Bush group, despite the name.  This rather well-dressed woman appears to have been part of the Billionaires For Bush group, which is actually an anti-Bush group, despite the name.

This rather well-dressed woman appears to have been part of the Billionaires For Bush group, which is actually an anti-Bush group, despite the name.


Larry Holmes of the International Action Center speaks regarding the war in Iraq.


Another gentleman speaks regarding Africa and Iraq.

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1