The Occupiers first rallied at Malcolm X Park this afternoon in Columbia Heights, 1.5 miles away, a woman later told me. There were many speakers, along with a Union choir that sang a capella. A few hundred people showed up. Lots of Communists, she said.
Look, the tourists are marching for us. Here are the peace people around that tent that's been there since 1981, the twenty-four-hour vigil by a lady named Concepci Ã³ n. There is a petition linked to the site www.whitehousepeacevigil.org , collecting signatures to persuade the government to build a permanent structure to replace the tent and make it more inhabitable all times of the year.
A woman on metal crutches, in her mid-fifties, is an Occupier who's been with the group since its inception at the beginning of October 2011. She wears a red and white khafiya, expressing sympathy with the Palestinians. She said she was injured in February by a policeman on a horse he couldn't control. That on top of Lyme disease and arthritis. She has been in every state on the continent. She was trained as an EMT when she was in the army, so that she served as a medic for Occupy DC. "Why are these things always all about the police?" I ask her.
It's now about 7:40. A chant rises from a distance: "We are the 99 percent!" over and over again. Awesome. "The people united will never be defeated!" they continue and repeat. The group of three hundred fills the width of the road. By this time the tourist crowds have dwindled, but those who remain are friendly and inquisitive. The marchers are headed up by a giant sunflower dragon (see picture under title; here is another):
One man clearing up the dragon later asks me what I would eat if I were one. "The one percent!" I answer.
The crowd stops in front of the White House. Speakers have traveled from as far away as the Philippines, Honduras, and Bengla Desh. I see Che Guevara on the back of a shirt and on a flag. This is the leftist event I have attended since I used to follow ANSWER.
Here is a photo of a reporter photographing himself as he narrates what's going on:
A few people stand around one carrying an Israeli flag. I am amazed to see one within such a leftist assemblage. I go closer. Some people are attacking the people attending the flag. The Israel people's arguments back aren't terribly convincing. "What chutzpah," I think to myself. I ask a man standing next to me to please lift a corner of the flag so that I can photograph it. "I'm not Jewish, so I won't," he answers with a straight face. Heil Hitler! But the flag is unassailed and tolerated otherwise. Quite moving actually.