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Southern Solidarity

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The last time I marched(with the exception of ERA) was Vietnam. Some things have changed. Some have remained the same.

The crowd began small, mostly teachers and a few hardhat union workers but quickly grew to more than 200 when the speakers began. At its peak, there were almost as many hardhats as teachers along with your generic mix of middle-aged social justice lefties such as you might see at the local Unitarian church. That was before we were joined by the pro-choice women from FSU. I say joined but they may just have passed by with a demonstration march of their own.

The Tea Party was represented by 1 brave soul(at the outset) who occupied a prominent place next to the speaker's podium which was a stone wall upon which the current speaker stood. He was immediately deluged by a host of people who attempted to cover his signs with theirs They succeeded in doing so for the entire length of the protest. One woman engaged him in reasonable discourse. But, by and large, he was denigrated by individuals and the crowd at large who chanted rhythmically:

"The Tea Party's over".

He was joined by a compatriot who became the source of some later behavior that I questioned as agitation.

The most effective speakers were black Democratic legislators who exhorted the crowd to keep its passion and express that passion on the Legislature's opening day.

Two other speakers of note were:

A former union (female) president of a North Florida education union who led us all in a rousing chorus of "You can't get me I'm a part of the union" interspersed with ad-libs of "Fuck the Governor".

A son of a union family who voiced a heartfelt assertion that the choices of his parents and siblings were not mistakes.

The second Tea Partier was threatened by a individual in the crowd who appeared suddenly, did not wear union memorabilia or logo. He made several threatening comments and was intercepted by the event organizers immediately. He disappeared just as quickly as he appeared. I was busy tweeting so I may not have seen every relevant fact.

I've lived here for 40 years. This is the most intense I have ever seen a diverse group of people unite to a common interest. The overarching theme of the rally was that the plutocrats are out to destroy the middle class. With the exception of the Tea Party, no one seemed to disagree with that premise.

All eyes are focused on March 8, opening day for the Legislature. Rumor has it the tea Party is bringing 4000 people. I speculate they will be dwarfed in size.

Police presence was minimal but they certainly were checking it out.

I observe that it is easy to get hit on the head while tweeting on a cellphone.

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Submitted by hipparchia on

The Tea Party was represented by 1 brave soul(at the outset) who occupied a prominent place next to the speaker's podium which was a stone wall upon which the current speaker stood. He was immediately deluged by a host of people who attempted to cover his signs with theirs They succeeded in doing so for the entire length of the protest. One woman engaged him in reasonable discourse. But, by and large, he was denigrated by individuals and the crowd at large who chanted rhythmically:

"The Tea Party's over".

whether the tea party supporters are provocateurs and plants or whether they're truly ordinary citizens who just feel threatened by the specter of 'socialism', i'm with lambert on making sure our side doesn't escalate anything.

I observe that it is easy to get hit on the head while tweeting on a cellphone.

ouch. what happened?

Submitted by wlarip on

the so-called 'union thug' broached the two Tea guys standing on the stone wall, I never saw him coming until one of the Tea guys shouted:

"Don't touch me".

The event organizer who was standing next to me immediately intervened quietly by telling the aggressor something I did not hear but which I assume was that the police would be summoned.

His response was:

"You better call them because it's going to happen".

If it was genuine, I could have gotten inadvertently involved by being absorbed with fat-fingering my cell. But my instinct is it wasn't.

Violence usually has a well-defined buildup followed by a spark, an explosion and an aftermath.

I was watching the people who were blocking the Tea guys' signs. This fellow was not among them. I looked up when the shouting began. I began to tweet. I heard the threat. I finished the tweet. I looked up and he was gone. If he was mad enough to fight, he sure got over it quick, the police weren't paying attention(which they were) and the Tea guys were unruffled.

But the anger across the board was quite real (not just at the Tea guys). Almost every speaker used the term, "they" or "them" and the common verb and object was "destroy the middle class" to loud cheers. No one was making an effort to tone down the rhetoric. This is warm-up for March 8 and the on-site politicians were surfing on the heat wave.

I think it best to keep your wits about you at a protest. Things are about as polarized as I've seen in 40 years.

Submitted by wlarip on

was a TV camera(WCTV I think) but they had moved to a higher level in order to take some panoramic shots of the size of the protest by the time this happened and the entire altercation was at the ground level close to the speaker's podium.

if I can, I'll take a digital camera with some video clip potential to the March 8 protest. I suspect the Tea people will be strictly segregated from the protesters on March 8 which doesn't mean there might not be some infiltration(from either side).

I'm expecting a lot of police visibility.

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Submitted by danps on

It's really good to see this kind of original reporting from the scene of these protests.

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Submitted by LostClown on

South represent!

Submitted by hipparchia on

yeah!