Reporting on protests in D.C. is a strange affair. Back in the day, former City Paper editor Jack Shafer wouldn’t let staffers cover them—-for one possibly good reason: There are way too many. Even though they’re easy to do, at some point it’s hard to justify visiting them all. Still, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try. Starting now, we’re going to try to cover as many protests as we can, and judge them based on five somewhat arbitrary metrics.
Today, we headed down to Freedom Plaza to check out the protest that members of small-but-tenacious Occupy D.C. group were joining. The original “October 2011” protest wasn’t actually about occupying anything—-rather it was an anti-war action planned by a different group who say they “stand in solidarity” with Occupy D.C.
Check out a slideshow of the protest by Darrow Montgomery and then read our take on the event:
1. Messaging: Not strong. There were references to occupying things and places, but the protest was also sort of about war, sort of about corporate greed, and sort of about the government. It was no surprise that about half of the crowd wasn’t really listening, rather they wandered around with signs looking for people who would take pictures.
2. Size: Police expected about 1,000 protesters—-which is about how many we’d estimate were there at noon. But considering that this event has been in the works for months, and the fact that Occupy D.C. has been going for a while now, that number seems a bit low. Perhaps they shouldn’t have had it in the middle of a work day?
3. Diversity: Utter fail. The crowd was mainly middle-aged white hippies, dotted with a few black protesters and a few more young folks. Despite one speaker insisting that this is a diverse movement, the attendees belied that claim.
4. Stamina: Unclear. It’s likely the anti-war folks will head home after this, but who knows how long the Occupy D.C. protesters—-who’ve been going strong all week—-will last? And considering some folks from 5 Hour Energy were there passing out free bottles (“They sent us to the area and we saw a lot of people here,” the reps told me) this could go on at least all night!
5. Chants: Weak, weak, weak. There were lots of songs—-including one that compared corporations to bullies on the playground of the world—-but chants were sorely lacking.
Final Grade: B- The market on populist anger shouldn’t be cornered by the Tea Party, so angry liberals in the wild is a good thing. But their showing in the District is, perhaps understandably, not as impressive in scale as the protests happening in New York. But we’ll give them some time. After all, Occupy Wall Street has been going since mid-September.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery