Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Marching We Will Go

Those of us of "a certain age" keep looking at each other and saying, "I can't believe that we're still having to protest this shit." We've been to more marches than we can count (shit, at my age, I probably can't remember them all, even if I could count them). Marches to end the Viet Nam war, the March for Women's Lives, the Million Mom March, marches to protest our entry into the Iraq war, marches to end the Iraq war, etc., etc. Here's some marching advice from a seasoned marcher to those patriots coming to Washington, D.C. this Saturday, September 15th, for the march to end the Iraq war. If we're lucky, if enough of us show up, maybe we won't have to keep protesting the same damn thing over and over.

I admit to a lot of pride of place in Washington, DC. It's my home and the "city of my heart." It's a beautiful city, especially in the Autumn, with monuments that take away your breath everywhere that you look. It's easy to come directly into DC by train. Union Station is just a few steps from the Capitol, where Saturday's march will end up. DC also has a very good metro system that allows you to get almost anywhere in the city (Georgetown is one exception) without a car. If you're taking metro, buy an all-day pass so that you won't have to stand in line and buy a farecard each time that you want to get on the subway. The trains can get kind of crowded during major marches.

There's tons of logistics information available by clicking the "End the War" button at the top of my blog: transportation, housing, maps, etc.

Right now, the weather services are calling for near-perfect marching weather -- clouds in the morning and high temperatures in the mid 70s. DC can be muggy this time of year, making it feel hotter than the thermometer says, but Saturday should be great.

Wear comfortable shoes and socks and loose, comfortable clothing, preferably with pockets. Sunscreen and a cap or hat to keep off the afternoon sun is a good idea. You'll want to carry a cell phone, chapstick, bottled water, a snack such as an energy bar, cheese stick, apple, sandwich, etc., some cash, and maybe a credit card. Lots of people make signs and bring them to the march, but the groups sponsoring the march will have printed up signs that you can pick up at the site and carry. Metro can be a bit weird about signs on sticks sometimes, although sometimes they go through with no problem.

I've been to lots of marches and have never been arrested. All of the peace marches that I've been to have been, well, peaceful. There's no reason to believe that this one won't be, as well. DC police are used to demonstrations and are generally better than some other police departments at not provoking protestors. I try to remember that it's just their job, they're not "the bad guys," and they're humans, with feelings, as well. You've got no argument with them and thus no reason to provoke them. All of that said, it's a good idea to wear a bandana or a scarf. If the police do use tear gas, you can douse the bandana with water from your water bottle and pull it up over your mouth and nose. If the police use tear gas, they'll release it so that the wind will disperse it over the crowd. While it's counterintuitive, that means that, if you can, you're often better off running towards the tear gas, so that you can get out from under it, rather than away from it. DC has lots of museums, monuments, etc. that will be open on Saturday, and there will be normal tourists touring those sites. Thus, if trouble does start, it's fairly simple to ditch your sign and head into a museum or other building until things calm down. You likely won't need this advice at all, but it doesn't hurt to have a plan.

If this march is anything like other anti-Iraq war marches, you'll never even see a counter-protestor. The few dozen (at most) chickenhawks who do show up usually stay together in one spot and content themselves with yelling insults at the marchers who outnumber them by several-hundred-to-one. I recommend ignoring them. The press will be there and they love to cover a "conflict" between the marchers and the counter-protestors, rather than focus on the fact that tens of thousands came to ask for an end to the war. Yeah, the chickenhawks are assholes. It's a free country and they've got a right to express their asshole opinions. Ignore them.

NTodd, Sinfonian, and possibly others are planning to liveblog the march. DC does have lots of places (Starbucks, etc.) with wifi, although you need your own laptop, which I wouldn't want to cart around on a march. If you can access the web with your cellphone, so much the better.

Come see my beautiful city this weekend. Come exercise the right that lots of people have died to ensure for you: "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." It's what patriots do. We've got a hell of a grievance that needs redressing.

Please add any other suggestions or sites that will be liveblogging in comments.


Sinfonian said...

I'll be liveblogging as well - I've got all the equipment set and ready to go.

Labrys said...

Thank you for marching. I am across the country in the other Washington, walking my Labyrinth for those we lose in this war, and worrying about my runaway Army son.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Hecate.
It is nice to have practical info from someone who has done it before and in D.C. and familiar with D.C. and not just from organizers.
And some reassurance and calm
Sure will be different than the weekly small town demonstrations, which our local paper is finally covering this week after all these years.
I was a bit nervous on Sunday and Monday cause the energy there seemed frenetic already. And I'm not a witch so I don't know how to work with it.
And it seems people who want to end the war and people who don't are both ratcheting up-frustration and anger and status quo and money at stake.
I guess an important way to prepare is to know what my voice is and ground and center so that I won't get swept up and/or away-on Saturday or when I meet with my representatives next week.
Here is to all of us being truely visible!

Virginia said...

I guess an important way to prepare is to know what my voice is and ground and center so that I won't get swept up and/or away-on Saturday or when I meet with my representatives next week.
Here is to all of us being truely visible!

I've done loads of marching and sign-waving in the last few decades, but I was getting a little nervous about this one. But I think keeping our heads clear about why we're there, refusing to engage in any silliness with the counter-protesters, and planning to have a good time is key.

And DC is, in fact, really beautiful!

Thanks for this, Hecate. There wasn't a compendium before, but there is, now!

(And I'll have my shiny new iPhone so I can try to post comments, although my tiny-keyboard skills are teh suxx0r.)

steve simels said...

Hecate --

I didn't march in the 60s, so I don't mind doing it now.

I do mind having to LIVE through this shit again, however.

Looking forward to meeting you and everybody else....