It is morning and I have watched this Sunday expire from inside Freedom Plaza. The sundown was obscured by the buildings but as the light fades the plaza turns to soft pale shades of grey. These shades are in turn over taken by the flood lights from the Taste of D.C. next door and by the decorative lighting from the hotels and surrounding office buildings.
I make my rounds through the plaza to see all my friends both new and old. Andrea and Bert from the staff of the Old Elm Tree and the special Code Pink ladies from deep in the heart of Texas, they are all special. We are all special here. That is the lesson which I have gleaned. I have met so many really nice, really great and really special people.
That I believe is the consensus; the people are great, the management of the rally is only so-so. There is a frustration in the crowd that the leadership is either too touchy feely, gentrified or missing all together. As the sun burned down to the wick, a near full moon rises over the Capitol building. On the stage at the front of the plaza the General Assembly, the show front of public democracy decides issues of trivialities and non substance. A joke told in the plaza goes like this; there will be a planning meeting on Tuesday morning. What time that meeting will be held will be decided by the General Assembly at its regular meeting on Wednesday.
Meanwhile at the back of the plaza, the leadership holds private meetings which are videoed but not open to the public. It is an interesting metaphor which is reminiscent of the entire Washington City experience. We sit in the plaza waiting for leadership and we get showmanship, some in the crowd, those of a more suspicious and less trusting nature sense a dark designs. Others in the crowd, myself included, see a leadership trying to grapple with a fluid situation and unable to come to grips with the psychological aspects of crowds and the masses.
These people have come from far and wide; they want to march and shout if led. They will become ornery and disgruntled if they are left on their own to mosey. Sometimes events are posted, other times, most of the time, no one knows what is going on and to ask a question will only elicit a rumor, a myth and an expletive.
I have come to know every foot of the plaza even the loose brick around the tree near the stage and the iron pipe which rises up a couple of inches from the sidewalk at the other end of the plaza. It is a vestige of some iron security post which has more than likely been removed and shipped to Hong Kong to be repainted. Its stump has been marked with red tape which is invisible until it is too late as the crowd walks.
We are Zombiefied; we are running on little sleep, on cool nights and damp mornings. A new friend named Shepard awoke this morning to find a Korean film crew doing a news reports over him as he slept. The announcements for the evening began last night by telling the crowd that our permit would expire at 10:00 PM. They also advised us that anyone without an ID or with outstanding warrants could be subject to additional hassles if arrested. They warned that tents could be confiscated and personal items could be lost.
Joe from New Jersey, a big guy and every bit the stereotype of a guy from Jersey asked, “What about the three warning rule they said the police would give us the other night?”
The next announcement warned, “We’ve talked to the D.C. police, and they’ve told us that they have a job to do and that they intend to do it.” Bert from North Carolina and I listen as the next speaker begins to tell us that it is cool and patriotic to get arrested. “It’s fun” the speaker explains, “You’ll have the time of your life.” It seems the leadership of the rally is not up for such fun tonight as they are all AWOL.
The crowd has heard no less than half a dozen explanations of what constitutes camping in Washington D.C. and last night’s definition included being in possession of personal property. We looked at ourselves quizzically as Micki from Texas says, “But we all have personal property.” This is the experience as many of us here want nothing less than a revolutionary action but feel as if they are doing no more than camping out at the mall. Darla answers, “This is bullshit man!”
Bert and Micki and I talked through the night telling jokes and the stories of our lives as the moon traversed the sky overhead and began to sink in the direction of the Willard Hotel and the White House. The cops never showed up to evict us last night, like the leadership of the organization they went home and slept in warm soft beds. They missed the dark shaded colors, the moon light, the cool of the evening and the dew of the dawn.
The sunrise came slowly to us in the plaza; we are awakened and some, like Bert and I never slept. We were all soaking up this experience like a sponge and only wish there were more to absorb. The people here in this plaza are dedicated and sincere and to the person they are some of the finest individuals that I have ever met. Yellow and orange hues embrace and surround the Capitol dome as the morning skies with broken high cloud pallets reflect vistas of colors in echelon towards us.
We are a great people, far better than the leadership of this rally understands, far greater than our government understands. We came here smiling, laughing, sharing and jovial. Ask and they will give unto you, there are no strangers or adversaries here. We are a great people who have come to ask nicely and it would be unwise to trifle with us, unwise indeed.
David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for The Leftist Review. He is currently in Washington D.C. taking part in the protest in Freedom Plaza.