Despite the rain, hundreds of people turned out for the protest yesterday, so many I couldn’t fit them all even in this wide panoramic shot.
It was a good turnout, despite the weather. In fact the rain kept me stranded at home and I missed the first hour or so. (Bike was my only available means of transport and I just don’t like getting wet.) So I arrived late and missed seeing my friend John Clark speak. I arrived to hear the latter part of Ian Hoch’s speech, which was excellent. (Levees Not War calls it “the hottest and most articulate rant.”) There’s a video clip of the whole speech. I extracted the audio so you can just listen if that’s more your speed.
There were perhaps a thousand people in attendance, yet I found myself reflecting how in some countries, thousands of people would be marching in the streets every day raising a ruckus. Why are we so complacent here? Is it because of our affluence? No — the Nordic countries have an even higher standard of living, but they’ll take to the streets at the drop of a hat. (Or so it seemed to me when I lived there.) And in poorer countries too people seem to have a greater propensity to express their collective displeasure. So what’s our problem?
It’s extremely hard to organize something like this, so hats off to the organizers for pulling it together. There were a few awkward moments, but generally I thought it went pretty well. The last speaker had the megaphone yanked from his hand, apparently for saying a “militant response” was required. This was to be a peaceful protest, you see. But I think that’s another indication of our general timidity. I mean, the guy said “militant response,” not “military response.” Militant does not necessarily mean violent. They should have let him speak.
A much uglier confrontation happened right in front of me. There was this long-haired Latino dude who seemed to inebriated or otherwise slightly incoherent. He was shouting things at odd moments and being a bit of a nuisance but not hurting anyone. He shouted something about the Gulf of Mexico and a man standing directly in front of me said, sarcastically, “Why don’t you go back to Mexico?” It could have gotten real ugly real quick but some women got between them and demanded the white guy say sorry. “That’s racist!” He didn’t want to apologize, so he and his entourage departed. I think they were tourists who just happened to be passing by and got caught up in the event.