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G20 Economic Summit Protests

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1

On Saturday, November 15, 2008, the leaders of twenty nations, otherwise known as the G20, were invited to Washington DC by President George W. Bush for an economic summit in order to “discuss the current financial crisis, its causes and efforts to resolve it through more effective regulation and reform” according to a State Department press release.

Meanwhile, the activist community in the nation’s capital was ready to go, as the economic crisis was viewed as the failure of our capitalist system.  As such, the people prepared to hold a funeral for capitalism.  A number of various demonstrations were held throughout the weekend.  I personally attended two.  One was a rally and march starting at 10 AM from Murrow Park in front of the World Bank to Luther Place Memorial Church on Thomas Circle, where lunch was served, and a People’s Forum was held in order for people to “learn about how the financial crisis happened and how it effects your local community, discuss new ideas and alternatives to capitalism, and come together as a movement to organize,” according to an Emailed announcement prior to the march.  The second demonstration was a “G20 Going Away Party” – a “rowdy” march meeting at Dupont Circle at 11:55 PM.

The weather forecast for the day was a really big “if”.  The Washington DC area had received rain for several days prior to Saturday, and the weather forecast was calling for a 90% chance of rain, and potentially thunderstorms.  Thankfully, the weather held out for the most part, and things cleared up by nightfall.


The first preparations that I made for this protest, aside from deciding I was going to attend, started on the Wednesday prior to the big day, when I attended a radical cheerleading practice at 7 PM.  Unlike all previous radical cheerleading practices that I had attended, this one was being held at Dupont Circle rather than on the campus of American University.  I’m never one to complain about events being held at Dupont Circle, since my office building is three blocks away from the circle itself.  I arrived just ahead of the appointed time, but as it turned out, attendance was light.  Meghan and Rachel, two other RCDC regulars, showed up, and that was all.  Since we already knew most of the cheers, the practice turned into something more closely resembling a strategy session, as we discussed making a cheer sheet, discussed what cheers to do, and what modifications we were going to make to them to fit the demonstration at hand – a protest against an economic summit.  As it turned out, we made a slight modification to 3-6-9, substituting “G20” for “World Bank” in the second line.  Additionally, we took an old chant and gave it a second verse.  The original bit goes like this:

That’s bullshit,
Get off it,
The enemy is profit!
Disease and starvation,
Will not be solved by corporations!

Then we added this:

That’s bullshit,
Get off it,
Don’t socialize your losses!
Foreclosures and gentrification,
Will not be solved by wealthy nations!

As you can see, we took a page from the book of progressive talk show host Randi Rhodes in crafting this, as she has discussed how the banks are privatizing the profits and socializing the losses via the $700 billion bailout that was recently authorized for them.

So with ideas in place for Saturday and no need to practice any cheers, we broke for the evening.  By sheer chance, it happened to be a day that I had taken the car down to the office, and so I ended up taking Rachel back home in the Sable.


On the day of the protest, I was prepared.  I had two outfits laid out for the day.  I had my radical cheerleading outfit all laid out, minus the tights, as it was slightly too cold to comfortably wear those.  Then I also had a black bloc outfit all laid out for that evening.  So, I put on my jeans, my Chucks, and the shirt I was going to wear for cheering, and packed the red cheerleading hat, the red shirt with the sleeves cut off, the arm things that I wear with that costume, and a bunch of bandannas, even though the black bandanna is strictly decorative when cheering.  I also got Duckie and the Kodak ready.  Since the weather forecast was calling for “showers and thunderstorms”, I considered it likely that I would need Duckie’s waterproof design in today’s events.

Riding Alstom 6177 from Glenmont to Farragut North, I arrived at Murrow Park just ahead of the 10 AM start time.  That was enough time to get there, say my hellos, and then get with the other radical cheerleaders before things got underway.  I also took the opportunity to put on my radical cheerleading outfit, pulling out the arm things, the hat, the red “RADICAL CHEER” shirt, and the black bandanna for around the neck.  Since the weather was a bit cooler than the last time I wore the cheer outfit (at October Rebellion), I wore jeans this time around, and left the tights at home.

One surprise for this demonstration was that our event was being held in the southwest section of the park (Pennsylvania Avenue splits the park in two), rather than the northeast section that more often hosts World Bank protests.  Either side of Murrow Park is a small space, but I had never ventured into this side of the park before.

And soon the demonstration started.


Spray painting a message on a banner.  This banner would ultimately read, "ANTI-CAPITALISTA".  Spray painting a message on a banner.  This banner would ultimately read, "ANTI-CAPITALISTA".

Spray painting a message on a banner.  This banner would ultimately read, “ANTI-CAPITALISTA”.


Partial view of the crowd gathered at Murrow Park for the demonstration.

Partial view of the crowd gathered at Murrow Park for the demonstration.


Speaking about the closing of the Franklin homeless shelter.  Speaking about the closing of the Franklin homeless shelter.

Speaking about the closing of the Franklin homeless shelter.


As part of the speech, Basav Sen then stepped in, playing the part of the unfeeling businessman.  As part of the speech, Basav Sen then stepped in, playing the part of the unfeeling businessman.

As part of the speech, Basav Sen then stepped in, playing the part of the unfeeling businessman.


"Anti-Capitalista" banner, completed and displayed.

“Anti-Capitalista” banner, completed and displayed.


Part of a multipart story about the economy.

Part of a multipart story about the economy.


A woman straps on a set of stilts.  A group of people would walk on stilts the entire way from Murrow Park to Luther Place.

A woman straps on a set of stilts.  A group of people would walk on stilts the entire way from Murrow Park to Luther Place.


"Bury Capitalism: Life after Debt" banner.

“Bury Capitalism: Life after Debt” banner.


Radical cheerleaders sing a song into the bullhorn.

Radical cheerleaders sing a song into the bullhorn.


And the people on stilts are up and on their way!

And the people on stilts are up and on their way!


With the people on stilts officially on the move, it was time for everyone to begin the march, and so we were off!

With the people on stilts officially on the move, it was time for everyone to begin the march, and so we were off!


Marching through the streets of downtown Washington, protesting the capitalist system under which we live.

Marching through the streets of downtown Washington, protesting the capitalist system under which we live.

Marching through the streets of downtown Washington, protesting the capitalist system under which we live.


“Let’s talk about debt, baby, let’s talk about anarchy…”


“…don’t socialize your losses!  Foreclosures and gentrification will not be solved by wealthy nations!”


The people on stilts led the way.

The people on stilts led the way.

The people on stilts led the way.


“…I simply remember my favorite things… and then I go F— S— UP!”


The march continues, with the radical cheerleaders and a small black bloc taking a spot near the front of the march.  The march continues, with the radical cheerleaders and a small black bloc taking a spot near the front of the march.

The march continues, with the radical cheerleaders and a small black bloc taking a spot near the front of the march.

The march continues, with the radical cheerleaders and a small black bloc taking a spot near the front of the march.  The march continues, with the radical cheerleaders and a small black bloc taking a spot near the front of the march.


Approaching Thomas Circle, with Luther Place coming into view.  Approaching Thomas Circle, with Luther Place coming into view.

Approaching Thomas Circle, with Luther Place coming into view.


Our protest march looped once around Thomas Circle before entering the park at the circle's center.

Our protest march looped once around Thomas Circle before entering the park at the circle’s center.

Our protest march looped once around Thomas Circle before entering the park at the circle's center.

Our protest march looped once around Thomas Circle before entering the park at the circle's center.

Our protest march looped once around Thomas Circle before entering the park at the circle's center.

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Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1