Report: #StopTheMach2011, A leader filled movement in Freedom Plaza
I arrived on Thursday afternoon around 1 PM, having taken the metro down to the Federal Triangle stop. As I got out of the station I could not work out which side let to Constitution Avenue and which led to Pennsylvania Avenue. I asked a lady with a red shirt and red cap, I forget what agency they are with, but they are there to offer directions, which way to Pennsylvania Avenue. She asked it I was looking for Freedom Plaza and I said yes. This encouraged me in the hope that many before me had asked the same question.
As I arrived at the plaza I saw that there was a good crowd, this also encouraged me to hope that the demonstration would be a success, at least from a crowd point of view. I was just in time to see Head Roc's set.
I made my way to the media tent and introduced myself to the great Lisa Simeone. As nice as I expected. We are fortunate in our steering committee.
Afterwards I watched Dick Gregory speak about how Obama had endorsed the demonstrators and how Obama symbolized all that was good in America. The reception was polite.
Directly after Dick Gregoray was a film maker whose name I did not catch. He gave a blistering denunciation of Obama that was received with lusty cheers.
I think Cheri Honkala spoke next. She is running for sheriff of Philadelphia on a platform of no more foreclosures. Anyone from Philly who can tell us how her campaign is going?
After that we heard Glenn Ford give an excellent analysis of racism from the sixteenth century and the beginnings of colonialism and the slave trade up to modern times. I would like to link to a copy of his remarks, but cannot find them online.
After that we had yoga. And now I understand why this is such a great idea for a long term demonstration. You get stiff. Sitting and listening to speaker after speaker leaves you feeling stiff. Yoga refreshes you and puts you in a better frame of mind for music or speaker.
In this case we were treated to the sound of Junkyard Empire, who were really good.
At this point Kevin Zeese spoke, but left because I wanted to check out Occupy DC and Occupy K Street. On my way out I stopped by a gentleman who was playing banjo and I asked it if he knew Pike County Break Down, and he instantly went into his excellent rendition of it.
I could not find the other demonstrations and so returned to Freedom Plaza only to watch demonstrators from Occupy DC and Occupy K Street march into Freedom Plaza complete with drums. I really like the idea of drums. It really gets the blood pumping and energizes you. Drums are good.
There was free food, thank you all who have been donating to the demonstration. The steering committee has been careful to select locally owned restaurants; so the money you send will go directly into the local economy and not to the 1%.
I met up with the great Eric Sheptock and we talked about homeless issues.
Then I left because my feet were KILLING me. My right shoe is broken in such a way that my heel falls out of it. To keep my right foot in the shoe is is necessary to hold my foot in such a way that puts a TERRIBLE strain on my right leg. I had meant to go back, but I had to rest my legs. I will be back tomorrow after church and will report again.
Law enforcement had a very light presence the day I was there. Today the pepper spray has come out.