Freedom Plaza, Washington DC, day one. (photo by Cheryl Biren)I arrived at Freedom Plaza, Washington DC, on the morning of October 6, 2011 for the start of the October 2011 "Stop the Machine" actions and I was overcome by what I found. I was in the company of several thousand fellow citizens, from all corners of the US. There was a powerful communal spirit. It felt like we were one being. We had come together because we had all, separately, felt so strongly about changing the US, and the world, that we had put our daily lives on hold, committed resources, and travelled long distances to be there. We believed that our presence, in that place and at that time, had meaning. The power of the energy and passion of the participants was overwhelming to me. I immediately understood why Abbie Hoffman thought it was possible to levitate the Pentagon in 1967. I felt like a space traveler arriving on a friendly and welcoming planet. I wept tears of joy and excitement.
The October 2011 actions, put together by a varied collection of veteran activists, had been in the planning for six months. It was intended to provoke, or further, our national conversation about the major issues our nation must face. I had heard about the action in the early summer and was hooked. It seemed like the right action, at the right time, with the right people, for the right reasons. I committed to attend and contacted the organizers to volunteer my efforts. I was offered the "position" of Florida Contact and, not knowing how to do it, accepted. My goal was to "spread the word" in South Florida and I did my best, meeting a lot of amazing people along the way.
OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IS
THAT WE'RE IGNORING
In poll after poll, the majority of people in the US consistently support a progressive agenda: end the wars and cut military spending, protect the social safety net and create Medicare for all, create jobs and protect workers' rights, transition to a clean energy economy, tax the rich and the corporations more fairly, and, the KEY to it all, GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS! These are issues that our dysfunctional, corporate-owned government is unable or unwilling to address, so it's left to "We the People" to make sure they're on the national agenda.
who journeyed to DC came to march, to chant, to yell, to be disruptive, to call
attention to problems, to force the issues.
We're activists, dammit! We
wanted action! And we got it. There were, during the 8 days I was there, an
average of 2 or more actions per day. We
were busy and delighted!
We marched to the United States Chamber of Commerce (photo by Rob Kall)
We marched on the United States Chamber of Commerce and tried to submit job applications to the "job creators," we marched to General Atomics (sic), a drone contractor, to remind everyone that "when drones fly, children die." A group went to the Air and Space museum intending to do a "die-in" at the drone exhibit. This action was cut short because an agent-provocateur from a conservative publication infiltrated the group, spoiled the plan, and subsequently bragged about it.
We did, however, manage to briefly shut down the Museum and get a lot of press attention. The Veterans for Peace and other military family groups went to the White House en masse to invite President Obama to a Beer Summit about war and veterans issues. We even offered to buy the beer!