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General News    H1'ed 5/2/12

Occupy Rallies and Mayday March Peaceful in DC: A Journalist's Journal

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Crowds milled around the White House the early evening of May 1, a spectacular day. The usual cast-iron gates seemed more protective than ever, even though the president preferred Afghanistan to this scenario closer to home: an Occupy DC rally and march.

Would the Occupiers be distinguishable from all these tourists? I wondered.

There were so many nationalities--parents and kids, turbans and saris, hardly a black person in sight. You can tell the American whites from others because they are smug and loud. Are they part of the 99 percent? They don't seem to be, exuding prosperity as they do.

Where are the Occupiers? I ask a policeman. "Who?" he asks. "The protesters. Are they on the other side?" "No, they'll be here."

It's seven and I don't see them. Here comes another crowd, but protesters don't wear peach-colored shorts.

The lady with the red, white, and blue lai has departed. Here's a picture:

What a mess it will be if protesters do show up. Some officious guy in all black asks me where they are. The clumps of tour groups are marching for them.

DC Occupy doesn't like me. I've visited them a few times. They treat me like the one percent, which I'm not.

They're gone from the DC encampments, I was told later. The ones at McPherson were rudely and roughly dispersed in the act of complying with the orders by policemen in horseback, who had been affable a week ago. Park police, who were supposed to be nicer than the others.

Two guys in light blue, Oxford cloth shirts pass by--plainclothesmen? I stare uneasily. They stare back.

There's a guy sitting on the curb with signs. Two police immediately join him, from a distance. "Bin Laden was on the right side, Arab. We're on the wrong one," reads one. "US Out of Afghanistan," reads another. There must be at least fifty of them. He's not Occupy, he says, but he'll demonstrate with them. He's lining the street with signs as tourists watch.

In Oakland and Seattle today, the rallies stormed, but here it didn't rain--God didn't want to soak the tourists.

Wow, a crowd of teenage girls in uniforms. They're dressed too warmly. Sweaters and dark stockings. I ask one where they're from. Brooklyn. What school? Beth Jacob of Bar Park. There must be one hundred of them. Orthodox Jews, no doubt.

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)

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