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While the rest of Washington headed to the inauguration (or stayed in bed), protesters used President Barack Obama‘s second sweating in as a chance to head to Meridian Hill Park to push assorted anti-war causes (drone warfare, the National Defense Authorization Act, the continued imprisonment of Bradley Manning) and listen to Neil Young covers.

The props are key at any protest, and these peaceniks delivered. Mock drones welcomed visitors to the park, but the centerpiece was a giant spine—-telling the president to “spine up”—-that needed the support of several people.

But all was not well with the spine. As I was leaving, I overheard a group of activists worrying they would be asked to hold it up “just for a few minutes,” only to be stuck with it for the rest of the day. One protester described spine duty as though it was an ancient curse that can only be lifted when it’s passed on: “Have fun, sucker.”

Photos by Will Sommer