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Funk the War 7

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1

Funk the War 7March 19, 2009 marked the sixth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq.  In Washington DC, among other demonstrations being held that day, the DC chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held a Funk the War demonstration.  This was the seventh of this style of demonstration, which combined an anti-war protest march with a mobile dance party, visiting the offices of various war profiteers, media organizations, lobbying firms, think tanks, and government offices.

Funk the War 7 started off from Franklin Square at 4 PM for a march that was slightly more than a mile and a half long, and followed a route through downtown Washington that took it past offices for the American Petroleum Institute, an Armed Forces Recruitment CenterCaterpillarBechtelParsons Corporation, the Research Triangle Institute, the Project for the New American Century, the American Enterprise Institute, Halliburton, and SSA Marine, before heading to its conclusion at Dupont Circle.

The march consisted primarily of DC’s usual radical activist community, and also drew members of Code Pink, as well as a small black bloc that gathered separately a block away at McPherson Square.


I took the day off of work to attend Funk the War 7, and so I stayed at home until around 1:00.  I drove down to Wheaton Metro, and caught the train from there, where I got CAF 5052.  The weather had been rainy much of the day, as it had been in 2008, and I was driving down to Wheaton with the windshield wipers on the whole time.

However, unlike in 2008, where nature claimed Big Mavica during Funk the War 3, this time I was prepared for anything nature wanted to sling at us.  I had the Canon with me, but more importantly for today, I had Duckie, my waterproof Vivitar digital camera, loaded with fresh batteries and a clean memory card, and all the waterproof seals were in place.  There was no way that I was going to drown another camera this year!

I took Metro to Farragut North, and then walked the roughly four blocks to Franklin Square.  I consider it preferable to just take the Red Line to Farragut North and then walk over to Franklin Square from there.  The alternative is to transfer to the Blue or Orange Line at Metro Center, and then ride over to McPherson Square station.  Despite McPherson Square’s closer proximity to my destination, I walked mainly to avoid a transfer.  With this being off-peak, it was somewhat luck-of-the-draw on whether it would be a quick transfer or a long transfer, and I didn’t want to gamble on it.  Basically, if transfers like you, it’s only two minutes, saving a bit of time and putting you ahead compared to walking.  However, if transfers don’t like you, it can be as much as ten minutes’ extra time, which is longer than just walking it.  Add to that the fact that walking is fairly predictable as far as arrival time, so I decided to skip the transfer, and walked.

I arrived at Franklin Square a few minutes before the announced start time of 3 PM, and got all my gear together.  Even though it wasn’t raining right then, the weather forecast was calling for more rain around 4:00, so the Canon stayed packed, and Duckie came out.  I went with Duckie because I didn’t know how swiftly-moving of a march this was going to be, and didn’t want to have to deal with a camera change in mid-stride.  In Franklin Square, DC’s SDS crowd was in place, and they were ready to go.  There were banners, signs, and lots of people waiting to step off.  I got to visit for a bit, and one comment I heard more than once was that the numbers were smaller than in 2008.  I believe the numbers ultimately ended up comparable to Funk the War 3 last year, but one has to remember that we’re dealing with “activist time” here, and “3:00” really means 3:30 or even 4:00.  If you show up at the announced start time, you are early.


Face painting, with a peace sign on one side, and catlike features on the other.  Face painting, with a peace sign on one side, and catlike features on the other.

Face painting, with a peace sign on one side, and catlike features on the other.

Face painting, with a peace sign on one side, and catlike features on the other.


Crowd gathered at Franklin Square for Funk the War 7.

Crowd gathered at Franklin Square for Funk the War 7.


Flyers, ready to hand out to passers-by.

Flyers, ready to hand out to passers-by.


Holding up one of the DC SDS banners.

Holding up one of the DC SDS banners.


A masked individual holds a hand-painted "Funk the War" sign.

A masked individual holds a hand-painted “Funk the War” sign.


The sound truck is all ready to go, covered in plastic to protect against the rain.

The sound truck is all ready to go, covered in plastic to protect against the rain.


Around 3:45 PM, an hispanic man who appeared significantly older than much of the crowd started making moves to get the march started.  People listened to him, and lined up facing west.  This quickly ended when Samantha, one of the SDS organizers, stopped him and talked to him, since first of all, it wasn’t time yet, and secondly, the march would be leaving from the northeast corner of the park rather than from the west.  Samantha explained the situation to everyone by saying, “Don’t listen to the drunk guy!”  As it turned out, the man reeked of alcohol, which also made him a hazard to everyone in a protest situation.  Thankfully, this would be the only trouble he would cause.


Lining up and preparing to march in the wrong direction.

Lining up and preparing to march in the wrong direction.


Samantha discusses things with the gentleman who lined up the march and started it going the wrong way.

Samantha discusses things with the gentleman who lined up the march and started it going the wrong way.


"Don't listen to the drunk guy!"

“Don’t listen to the drunk guy!”


At 4:00 PM, the music got started, and we were off!  The march originally took to the streets, but when the police showed that they were determined to keep us out of the street by pushing the march onto the sidewalks fairly early on, as well as on any subsequent attempts on our part to go into the street.  Thus Funk the War took to the sidewalks.


Staging for the march, this time for real.

Staging for the march, this time for real.


Lining up behind the banner in preparation for movement, with the music already playing on high.


And we are on our way!

And we are on our way!


Funk the War 7 steps off, initially taking the streets.

Funk the War 7 steps off, initially taking the streets.


Towing the sound equipment along.

Towing the sound equipment along.


"Education Not Escalation" sticker placed on a police car.

“Education Not Escalation” sticker placed on a police car.


Handing a flyer to the driver of a car stopped by our march.

Handing a flyer to the driver of a car stopped by our march.


We first went north on 13th Street, and then turned west on L Street, which took us to the military recruitment center in downtown Washington.  This was by no means an unfamiliar place, as the military recruiter’s office has been the target of many anti-war protests over the years.


Arriving at the military recruitment center.  As you can see, cops in helmets preceded us there, ready to block the entrance.

Arriving at the military recruitment center.  As you can see, cops in helmets preceded us there, ready to block the entrance.


The crowd, gathered in front of the military recruitment center.

The crowd, gathered in front of the military recruitment center.

The crowd, gathered in front of the military recruitment center.


Cops using sticks to contain demonstrators.

Cops using sticks to contain demonstrators.


 And underway again, still in the streets.  And underway again, still in the streets.

And underway again, still in the streets.

And underway again, still in the streets.

And underway again, still in the streets.


Luke takes a moment to line up a photo.

Luke takes a moment to line up a photo.


Following our brief visit to the military recruiter, we turned south on 14th Street, and headed west on K Street, past Caterpillar and Bechtel.  Additionally, around this point is where we were finally forced to march on the sidewalks.  We made a stop at Bechtel, and took a moment to give them a little extra attention in our anti-war protest.


Symbol spray painted onto the building.

Symbol spray painted onto the building.

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1