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Funk the War 3

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 3

Initially, the weather held out. The weather forecast was calling for rain, so it was expected, but for a protest, one always hopes it will stay away. As was the case in Georgetown, though, we were not so lucky. By the time we got to Bechtel, the rain was really starting to come down. Boy, did it rain. It poured. And it was cold.

Meanwhile, our next target was a building allegedly housing offices for Bechtel. By the time we got to Bechtel, I once again realized why a disc-based camera is not the greatest device to use at a protest. Big Mavica needs some level of stillness from time to time in order to be able to record the photos and movies in its internal memory to CD. A protest is just a little bit too “bouncy” for Big Mavica to handle, but somehow we manage. Thus I didn’t get that many photos at Bechtel, since Big Mavica was feverishly working to clear a backlog. On the plus side, though, in the same building as Bechtel is a Ritz Camera, much to the delight of all of us photographing in the crowd, if we needed to quickly pick something up to keep our cameras going.

At Bechtel, some people took direct action. Next thing I knew, police and security officers were spattered with red paint, and there was a large splat of red on the building. Yes, Bechtel got hit with a “paint bomb”, so to speak, as someone from the crowd basically threw something full of red paint, to represent the blood of war, at the building.

Leaving Bechtel, we were once again on the move, as the rain continued to come down.






We even stopped a Metrobus in its tracks!  We even stopped a Metrobus in its tracks!

We even stopped a Metrobus in its tracks!

We eventually settled in at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue, 17th Street, and K Street NW – right in front of Farragut Square, and the Farragut North Metro station. Here is where SDS pulled out the big guns – a “hard” blockade. Basically, rather than simply blocking an intersection with people only, otherwise known as a “soft” blockade, which is relatively easy to move as proven when everyone got shoved into McPherson Square, this street blockade involved hardware. Desks! People brought out those desks like many of us had in elementary school. And these desks were painted with anti-war messages, as well as the logo for SDS. Some people physically linked themselves up to the desks. Others used drumsticks and tapped out a beat on these desks. Sad to say, this, along with the rain, destroyed the beautiful paint job on these desks, but for the sake of the movement, I suppose…

But this was to be a bigger blockade than just desks. Many others took seats in the street around the desks with arms locked, forming a soft blockade around the hard blockade. And then beyond that, at one point, people formed a circle around these people and began to march around the soft blockade.

The desks come out, to be brought into position in the street.  The desks come out, to be brought into position in the street.

The desks come out, to be brought into position in the street.

The desks come out, to be brought into position in the street.

The street blockade is underway!  The street blockade is underway!

The street blockade is underway!

The street blockade is underway!  The street blockade is underway!

The street blockade is underway!  The street blockade is underway!

Dancing in the street as we occupy the intersection of Connecticut Avenue, 17th Street, and K Street NW.

Meanwhile, the police department was prepared to break up the group. There was a large group of officers lined up on Connecticut Avenue ready to descend on this group in order to break it up. The officers marched up. The police captain, Jeff Herold, the same one from Georgetown, announced that they had however many minutes to unblock the street. Naturally, as the police were dealing with a group of mainly anarchists, no one in the group moved. Eventually, the police retreated. They simply made an about-face, and headed en masse back to their staging area further up the street. This was met with tremendous applause from the demonstrators.

By this time, it was raining. Hard. The rain was coming down, and everyone was soaked. No one had any chance of staying dry. Due to the nature of this march, I had decided to forgo an umbrella. So I was soaked, too, as was the backpack. However, this was too good and too exciting to miss. There were photos to be had, and I was going to get them. Big Mavica was getting rained on, but I was wiping it dry as well as I could, and it was still going like a pro, as I grabbed shot after shot after shot of this fifth-anniversary-of-the-invasion anti-war protest.

However, the rain soon took its toll on Big Mavica. As I was lining up a shot, the data going to Big Mavica’s screen suddenly became garbled, and then just as suddenly, the screen went completely white. Could I still shoot photos, albeit “blind”? No. Big Mavica would power on and off, but otherwise was completely unresponsive.

Big Mavica's final photo, in a downpour, in the streets of Washington DC.

Big Mavica’s final photo, in a downpour, in the streets of Washington DC.

At first, I couldn’t believe it. Big Mavica couldn’t be out of commission. It couldn’t be. It was Big Mavica, the camera that went through heavy rain at World Bank protests in Foggy Bottom and Georgetown, and kept on shooting. It had been to hell and back, and still kept going. This camera, which at times seemed like the camera that would not die, had very likely taken its last photo. However, despite that the camera was out, I wasn’t concerned about the photos that I had taken. They were saved to removable media, and thus could be recovered with minimal effort, even without the camera.

I have to say that after the camera quit on me, Isis and Luke were very supportive. Both recommended that the camera be stowed for the remainder of the day with the batteries out in order to allow the camera to dry out, and that, as I had said, the pictures should be able to be recovered just fine. Meanwhile, with the soft blockade still going on, and not expected to be going anywhere anytime soon, Isis and I ducked into a small locally-owned convenience store nearby in order for Isis to get a cup of coffee, and for both of us to get out of the rain for a bit. I tested the camera again now that it was in a more controlled environment. Yep – the screen was still white, and I got no response from the camera.

Rejoining the action, the street blockade was still going on. I kept shooting photos, however – with my cell phone.




Eventually, the rain stopped, and with the paint completely drummed off the desks, everyone resumed their march. I was in a bit of a mental fog, since I was now rather preoccupied with the sudden, unexpected loss of Big Mavica. I pulled my red bandanna up in hopes of concealing the fact that I was suddenly so preoccupied, thinking about how I was going to do the photo set without Big Mavica, since the cell phone has extremely limited capacity, and is, after all, not a digital camera by design. I ended up taking a position right at the front of the march, helping carry the “Fund Education, Not War” banner. This, while keeping me in the march, right in front, also gave me clear ahead to think, and also, ironically enough, put me slightly away from the center of the action. This was because the front of the march would generally go slightly beyond the target, and therefore, any direct action would come out from the center of the march.

Arriving at the recruitment center for the second time during Funk the War 3.

Arriving at the recruitment center for the second time during Funk the War 3.

Our destination this time was the military recruiter at 14th and L Streets NW, which we had visited once earlier in the day. Unlike the first time, which was a relatively brief stay, this time, we stayed a while, as people inside the building all stood at the windows and watched. It was a tense situation this time, especially after a paint bomb was thrown at the building, splattering red paint all over.

As with our first visit, pro-war counter-protesters were guarding the recruitment center, and inside, employees stood at the windows, looking at us with curiosity.

Leaving the recruitment center, we marched south down 13th Street back to K Street, and headed west. I had to call it a day with Funk the War, since first and foremost, I was highly preoccupied with the camera, and being as distracted as I was, it was almost as bad as DWI, i.e. Demonstrating While Intoxicated. Jeff put it best one time when he said you should never come to a protest drunk, high, hung over, or stoned, since it could endanger both your own safety, and the safety of those around you. Thus I started considering the idea of making a graceful exit from Funk the War, since I was too distracted to be effective at the demonstration, and was afraid that my preoccupation might cause someone to get hurt. When the march passed Farragut North station again, I bid Isis goodbye, and ducked in.

I ended up taking Metro up to Tenleytown-AU station, where there were plans to meet up for radical cheerleading downtown. However, due to the rain, these plans fizzled out. I then made my way down to Pentagon City Mall, since I needed a time to recoup and kind of unwind, but I also wasn’t ready to head back home just yet. I ended up settling into the Apple store for a while, where I wrote a Journal entry about Big Mavica’s likely demise at the hands of nature. Additionally, it was here that I truly started to feel really cold, as all the rain that my clothes had taken on during the protest was evaporating, taking much heat away with it. Interestingly enough, if caught in the rain in somewhat-heavy clothing, the water actually acts as an insulator, keeping heat in. However, once the water starts evaporating, that’s when you start to feel really cold, and let me tell you something, I was freezing in the Apple store. And the Apple store is supposed to be all warm due to however many Macs they have running in there all at once. Ah, well.

Following my time in the Apple store, I headed back to Silver Spring via Fort Totten. I haven’t seen this much anti-war action in Washington DC on a weekday since Bush’s second inauguration in 2005. I just hope we can keep the anti-war momentum going through the election, and make sure the next administration knows that it’s time to end the US-led occupation of Iraq.

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 3