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Archive for April, 2004

Performance @ Lafayette Park for the DC Anti-War Network

Wednesday, April 7th, 2004

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Written by Jim Macdonald

By 5:40, Genevieve and I unfurled the “Arrest Bush for War Crimes” banner and stood out there with a man from the Re-Defeat Bush campaign and another man I had never met before. Soon, the Park Police were out there asking their usual sets of questions. Who is in charge? How long do you plan to be here? How many? Then, a police officer asked someone else if we were with DAWN. The police said someone had called in the protest saying 100 people would be there. I don’t know who made that phone call, but it wasn’t me. The answers to the police were vague because in truth we had no leader, we didn’t know how many would be there or how long we would stay. Furthermore, it was none of their business.

Soon, tourists took interest in us. The heavy rush hour traffic honked approval, especially cab and bus drivers. Three tourists in particular made the most profound impact on me. A woman and her two children from Tacoma, WA, stopped by. She explained that her brother was in Iraq and didn’t want to be there. He was even ready to retire from the military but couldn’t until he was allowed to return home. She grimaced when I told her that Rumsfeld had just said that he hoped to slow down the troop rotation and keep the soldiers there longer. Genevieve and she talked a long time. After awhile, I tactlessly asked Genevieve whether she had shared seeing helicopters and buses taking wounded to Walter Reed Medical Center, which is not far at all from where she lives. Genevieve said, “I didn’t want to tell her about that.” In truth, the woman’s face became more downcast at the thought. She said, “I have confidence my brother will come home okay.” Then, she hesitated and said, “At least I think he will…I hope.” The children decided to make signs and join the protest. Taking the signs and markers we had just purchased, the 10-year-old girl made a sign that said: "Bring my uncle home soon! I miss him thanks to gordge Bush."

At first she was shy about showing it, but soon she was humbly standing there showing the sign to bus after bus of tourists, to car passengers who slowed to read her sign. Soon, she was interviewed by Luke and WSQT. That brought a smile to my face.

The scene picked up. At the height, we had more than the 25 people allowed, and I estimate about 35 showed up. That may sound very small to some of you, but I honestly thought when I was proposing this action the night before that we were not going to have an event at all, or that we would have 5 or 6 people. There were some press cameras. We reached several thousand tourists and commuters in the process. In fact, we even drew a few counter-protesters. A man stood quietly across the street with an Israeli flag and a sign that said, “Bush & Sharon Fighting Terror Together” or something to that effect. The great thing was in such a small scene was that people on our side would cross the street to talk. When a young yuppie couple showed up with a sign that said, “Hippies…Get a job!” several Code Pink people crossed the street to talk with them. Genevieve’s friend Patty made a sign that responded perfectly, “Yuppies, Get a Heart!”

Shahid came and led us in chants, impressing those who had never seen this one Guerrilla Poet in action. It’s amazing how much a microphone does to pick up the energy, to unify the space, to bring us all into one sound spectrum.

(more…)

The DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency (GPI) is an anti-authoritarian, collaborative, pro-humanity artists' collective incorporating music, rhythm, spoken word, community and resistance.

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