The Mall

That Day Molly Smith Led a Protest on Gun Control

Molly Smith at Gun March on DC

It wasn’t hard to spot the gun control crowd marching on Washington last Saturday. They were the ones all the tourists were pointing at.

OH: “Who are all those people over there?”
OH: “You think something’s wrong?”
OH: “Oh it’s one of those anti-gun groups.”
OH: “Get out of the picture, Fred!”

In fact, the March on Washington for Gun Control was not one group but a few – groups like One Million Moms for Gun Control and folks from the mayor’s office, plus Arena Stage’s Molly Smith, who organized the whole thing (unaffiliated with the theater).

I ran into the march while headed toward the National Gallery of Art for my birthday. So obviously I took a detour; because nothing says celebrate like partisan politics and national tragedy.
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News, The Daily Feed

Day of Action Against Guantanamo This Wednesday

Photo courtesy of ElvertBarnes
courtesy of ElvertBarnes

If you were surprised by all the underwear-clad Metro riders on Sunday, don’t be one of those people surprised by the orange and black human chain during lunch break on Wednesday.

On Jan. 11, activists from around the country will be locking arms from the White House to the Capitol to protest the 10th anniversary of Guantanamo Bay prison. Organizers need/expect at least 2,771 people to complete the chain, which equals the number of detainees still held at Guantanamo and Bagram.

The protest starts at 12pm with a rally at Lafayette Park and is sponsored by Amnesty International and a bunch of other organizations. To get involved, register with any of the sponsoring groups, wear black or orange on Wednesday, and keep up with the campaign via the hashtag #closegitmo.

Oh yeah and eat an early lunch. I doubt it’s polite to break the human chain for a Chop’t run.

Life in the Capital, News, The Mall

Best of: DC Protests 2011

Photo courtesy of theqspeaks
Occupy DC – In the Capitol’s Shadow 2
courtesy of theqspeaks

It’s been the year of the protestor in DC, and that’s after a 2010 filled with Tea Parties and Rallies for Sanity. We’ve seen protestors on our walks to work, outside and inside our memorials, sitting in the middle of the street and, yes, in our jails. Some protests have gone really well: they’ve raised awareness or made for some badass photo opps, or both.

Others have utterly flopped: did you hear about the Occupy The Art Institute of Washington protest? Yeah neither did anyone else.

So here they are! Relive the all the obnoxious traffic, repetitive catchphrases and handcrafted signage of the most memorable protests of 2011!

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Photo courtesy of
‘Entrance Fare’
courtesy of ‘Collin David Anderson’

Not every great photograph is crisp and perfect, in clean focus and with smooth grain. This shot, from inside the Foggy Bottom Metro this weekend, captures the motion of this protestor as he leapt to the top of the faregate, and, from the description, into the waiting arms of MPD. What I love about this photo is that you’re seeing what’s about to happen, as well what is happening.  That’s a hard capture as a photographer, to get the viewer to see what’s next, as well as frame the moment.

I love the clean lines in the background, the curving squares of the Metro ceiling stretching onward into infinity.  The Do Not Enter lights of the faregates express clearly the transgression in progress.

Wonderful job, Collin David Anderson.

The Daily Feed

Protesters Demand Removal of Wayne Clough from Smithsonian

All photos by Max Cook

In response to the removal of the David Wojnarowicz video from the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” exhibit, protesters gathered today in front of the Smithsonian Castle demanding the removal (or resignation) of Secretary Wayne Clough.  While the media to protester ratio was nearly one to one, the group’s collective voice was no doubt heard by the ears of the Smithsonian.  Organized by the New York based art action group “Art Positive“, the protesters marched and chanted in hopes that Clough be removed from his position and the video, “A Fire in My Belly”, be returned to the exhibit.  While it’s unlikely that Clough will step down from his position, it’s clear that this controversy is far from over.

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All Politics is Local, News, Special Events, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Armed Protesters

Photo courtesy of
‘9-12 March in DC-24’

If you happen to see a group of armed Tea Baggers in Virginia tomorrow, don’t be alarmed! It’s merely a group of patriots(tm) attempting to make some sort of statement against big government by carrying firearms, which symbolizes something. A coalition of militias and gun rights groups that are ticked about, amongst other things, health care reform and bailouts, are strapping on and gathering tomorrow at Gravelly Point on the Virginia side of the Potomac, the closest place to DC that they can openly carry. They aim to make history by holding the first armed protest in a national park, and are in no way attempting intimidate political opponents by brandishing weapons as they protest the “erosion of the Constitution.”  In fact, they see bearing arms as a form of mainstream political dialogue, a right granted to them by the Constitution, along with the right to peaceably assemble. Why you’d need weapons at a peaceful protest hasn’t quite been hashed out, but supposedly the group has a rationale.  But really, I’m not here to tell you about it.  I just don’t want you to freak out if you see guys with guns shouting angrily in the direction of the Capitol. They’re just fighting for our rights.

News, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

BREAKING: Fire Bombs in NW DC

Photo by Allen Combs

A reader and WUSA 9 report that a man threw Molotov cocktails into the intersection at 17th and K St..  He was apparently holding a sign that said “Justice” on top of a van with “Not my $200 Million” emblazoned on the side.  It is not clear exactly what he was protesting.  Police arrived on the scene quickly and took the man into custody.  At this point, it appears that no one was hurt, although traffic is stopped at the intersection in question.  We’ll get back to you with more details as they become available.

Update 3:05: DC Fire and EMS Twitter reports a suspicious package in the van.

Update 3:08: Live video feed of 17th and K St. intersection.

Update 3:13:  One of the entrances to Farragut North is closed due to the incident.

Update 3:20: Officers seem to be moving around the van without much trepidation.  The suspicious package appears to have been a false alarm.

Update 3:27: Van driven away by police.  It appears as though the incident is wrapping up.  Can any readers on the scene confirm the Molotov cocktails?

Update 3:50: Intersection is reported to be clear.  Just in time for it to get gridlocked by Maryland drivers during rush hour!

Update 4:00: Several witnesses (thanks Sean!) report that there weren’t actually any Molotov cocktails, after all.  WUSA 9 still reports that 3 were thrown.

News, The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Tea Bag Metro?

Photo courtesy of
‘they’ve had enough’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

Tax hating, tea-party protesters are angry at Metro. You’d think it would be for being a publicly funded transit system that wastes tax-payer dollars as it ferries the excessively large federal workforce in and out of the city.  It turns out, however, that the tea baggers are upset because WMATA’s service wasn’t up to snuff during their Saturday protest. Texas Representative Kevin Brady is calling for an investigation into whether or not Metro adequately prepared for the number of protesters that were in the city on 9/12. The irony, of course, is that these people were in DC to protest government spending on services, in general. 

See the WSJ article on the subject, here.

Mythbusting DC, The Features

DC Mythbusting: The National Mall as Protest Central

Photo courtesy of
‘Iran Protest in DC’
courtesy of ‘spiggycat’

Welcome to another DC Mythbusting! This week, we’ll be discussing the National Mall and its place as the country’s ‘front yard’ for protesting and gathering.  With such a wide open space, in view of both Congress and the President, clearly the National Mall was created to be a place of protest and free speech, right?  And it has always served the role as the gathering place for Americans with something to say?

Not exactly.  While the Mall was envisioned by Pierre L’Enfant as a “people’s park” along a grand avenue, it has been through many iterations before it became what it is today. The author of Grand Avenues states that the Mall was “a public statement of American destiny,” showing a horizon of possibilities from the Capitol (113).  And while L’Enfant planned a grand vista along the axis (which turned out mostly perfectly) along with a singular equestrian statue, it wasn’t really built like that.
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All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

Conservative “Activists” at Metro Stations

Some activity around Union Station and Foggy Bottom Metro stations today; protestors with signs and petition clipboards calling for an end to “Rxationed Health Care” and protecting “Worker’s Rights.” Not your typical Greenpeace minimum wage clipboarders or LaRouchie card table shriners, though; the attire was a bit too far over this side of smart casual, the protestors’ poise a bit disengaged from the normal DC crowd, and the messages just a bit…teabaggy.

Some Twitter mention of this from radical conservative activist @bradtidwell, who is at Foggy Bottom this morning protesting “socialized” health care. I think I got a feel for the general tenor of the protest when one of the Union Station guys shouted “PROTECT WORKERS! DEATH TO UNION THUGS!”