12 October 2011: Occupy DC, Dreary But Defiant
It's a crumby day in our nation's capital: overcast, drizzling in the wake of six arrests yesterday after a coalition from three different occupying groups failed to take over the Hart Senate building during a hearing.
Chanting from the chamber balcony and carrying political signs in the building were some of the offenses, labeled more broadly as "demonstrating in a Capitol building."
One of those arrested, Andrew Batcher of the D.C. area, said he was imprisoned for four hours and then released without charges or fines.
The good news is that the press no longer ignores left-wing activism as it did during the days of the Iraq and Afghanistan war protests. Dana Milbank wrote a wry and disappointed op-ed on how watered down the Washingtonian efforts are, composed of "the usual suspects" plus some homeless people recruited to swell their numbers. [I might add, others who had traveled here from as far as California.]
He himself infiltrated the coalition meeting that preceded the Capitol raid, extracting quotes that did not portray those brave participants, led by author and activist David Swanson, in the most positive light.
So that's where we were in WaPo, at least from what I could find on the Internet. Politico and WaPo's free, abbreviated spinoff the Express contained more objective coverage.
The groups' permit has been extended--good news--I'm not sure how long, but the maximum length of time allowed is four months.
Today's schedule at the Freedom Plaza encampment includes a labor rights march to and rally at Farragut Square in support of building cleaners. There are also plans to picket a conference on health care at the Marriott Center, sponsored by CitiGroup and Morgan Stanley; another group plans to march to a homeless shelter.
I spoke briefly with a woman from Seattle whose travels to the East that included both New York and D.C. coincided with the protests there. She said that in Seattle the police are going to remove protesters camped out in tents, though someone nearby had mentioned that if a tent displays a political protest sign, it falls into another category that is not such fair game.
Another older man in military uniform and wheelchair, covered with political protest buttons, said that the government has treated him badly since his time in Vietnam that ended in 1974. Glad he joined the group, given the left wing's cold shoulder toward 'Nam vets back in the seventies.
From a distance, the colorful tents resemble newly baked muffins, a welter of raised circles. I couldn't get a good picture of the scene, but when I asked for the words that went with it, the message to outsiders, especially Progressives, is, "Love to see you. Come down and lend support."