I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the Malls at night
And revolution in the air
No, nothing even close to revolution in the air. And not even ‘Occupy D.C.’, whose K Street park base was empty, glowing green in the flickering Fall sunlight. Instead, another group, calling itself ‘October 2011’ gathered a small band in front of the White House, numbering perhaps 45. (The tourists and on lookers like the Stiftung swelled that number to may be 200). The October 2011 faction has been operating from a permit on Pennsylvania Ave. in front of the National Theater.
The signs and handouts varied from try Bush and Cheney for war crimes, end Israeli control over U.S. foreign policy, to demands for a beer summit with Obama. The leaders of the Octoberists are silver haired and remember fondly ‘Hey, hey, LBJ’ days. One of their flock took off his shoe and threw it at either the White House or a Secret Service officer. No one is sure which. After a brief flurry of force, the Octoberists were pushed away from the WH. He was hauled away and his medical history provided to The Man. Eventually everyone cooled down and the Secret Service permitted the 45 or so to gather in front of the WH gates to demand a beer summit.
When the Octoberists were informed Obama and staff were away at Camp David, a certain deflation set in. So the trek commenced back the 5 blocks to the Octoberist base on Freedom Square. Their permit expires tonight. It’s not clear they want to or would be invited to join Occupy D.C., whose permit on K Street is still valid. The Octoberist camp, in place for a week, was well laid out. A tent for legal aid. A medical tent. Code Pink educational seminars. Art displays depicting the loss felt by families for their fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the Afghan and Iraqi people.
All in all, it felt like mildly disgruntled PTA meeting without cookies or PDF agenda. The Octoberists seemed to celebrate their coming together and connection as much as wanting to impart any message. The chants were led but if a good riff came from the crowd, the group was open to improvisation.
Downtown, 10 feet away from the Octoberist base camp the Taste of D.C. festival closed down Pennsylvania Ave for blocks. Restaurants and companies from all over offered freebies to throngs. Most D.C. citizens seemed content to play with the GEICO Gecko or taste Armand’s Pizza. The Octoberist demonstrations seen as just more vaudeville theater adding color to a day on the town.
The entire vibe today wholly inapposite to video from NYC or the unctuous Erin Burnett ‘reporting’. D.C. police know big crowds, how to manage big crowds and when to lie low or make their presence felt. Unlike NYC it would be ludicrous to imagine the vaguely amused D.C. cops even thinking about using pepper spray. These were not crowds and if not PTA Meetings, rambunctious Cub Scout Den re-enactments.
And unless some new dynamic occurs, these are not the makings of 1848 or 1905, either.