A highly promoted Washington, DC rally that was tangentially related to the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations got off to a rocky start today with sparse attendance and a massive news media presence.
Located at Freedom Square at the edge of Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, several hundred people attended the rally which was more an anti-war rally than an anti-capitalist. They played off of the “Occupy DC” protesters who camped a few blocks away at McPherson Square.
This confusion led to many in the news media to believe they were the same group. At least 12 TV crews and four live television production trucks descended on the square. Here is the line up of live TV trucks:
The Freedom Plaza rally was a hodgepodge of issues ranging from D.C. statehood, wind power, opposition to Wal-Mart and U.S. war making and even protests over the seed company Monsanto. Corporate capitalism only came up intermittently. It looked more like a Woodstock Nation peace rally. Here is a typical Woodstock Nation scene at the plaza. Looks more like circa 1970 rather than 2011, doesn’t it?
Tellingly, no unions were present at the event. Nor were there any Democratic lawmakers. This is not yet the “anti-tea party” movement Democrats may want to embrace.
On topics, the protesters were all over the place. Here a guy is opposed to corporate tax cheats and oil spills, but in favor of windmills.
These two guys were against the “Israeli lobby.” Note the Star of David inserted into the word “War” in “War Lobby.”
A lone protester complained about the company Monsanto, which manufactures genetically modified seed. Not sure how Monsanto has gotten into the government:
The protesters were nearly exclusively white. The lack of African Americans or Hispanics did not seem to bother the crowd. Here are about 100 of them sitting in front of a small stage. There are few people on the other side of the camera crews at the back.
Speaking of the news media, here is a nice shot of those cameras on tripods facing the stage. This does not include the half dozen roving TV camera crews. You’d think it was a national event!
Probably ignored by the national news was the smattering of “Truthers” throughout the crowd. These are people who believe the United States was behind the September 11 attacks, not al Qaeda. Here is one man wearing an “Investigate 9/11” Shirt:
Isolationists also peppered the crowd. Found on the ground near the “Occupy DC” area were a bunch of Ron Paul for President signs. The anti-war crowd obviously attracted some isolationists too:
At times the group was openly hostile at times to Obama. It’s ironic that today at the White House the President cited the anti-Wall Street protesters as people who were on his side. These folks were not necessarily his friends. This sign was displayed at the perimeter of the rally site. It equates the crimes of Bush to Obama.
Below, this union man from Erie, Pennsylvania sported an anti-Obama T-Shirt. He said “The President is for the corporations, not for the working people. He’s been on the corporate dole since day one.” He is a member of the United Electrical Workers Union:
The group spouted militancy that reflected by many hard left groups. The clenched fist was one that was prominent. They believe it “the struggle” is not over:
It is unclear whether the anti-capitalist protests are a new political phenomena or just an amalgam of the old Left. Today’s turnout suggested it’s just the latter.
It will be interesting to see the media spin on the event.