Are you ready for some football?
September 27, 2002: the first day of “People’s Strike” weekend, three days of mobilizations against the policies of the IMF and World Bank, and George W. Bush’s war in Afghanistan. It was 7am when I showed up at Franklin Square in downtown DC — way too early for a guy my age to be up, even back then. A loose confederation of anarchists and affinity groups was gathering at the Square, planning to stage an unpermitted “wildcat” march downtown to the IMF.
As it turned out, the march got as far as Vermont Avenue and L Streets NW before being trapped by police and scooped up. At least 400 protesters and bystanders were arrested en masse that day downtown, at Franklin Square and Pershing Park. I somehow managed to avoid being nabbed by noticing the police line forming up early at Vermont and K, seizing a moment of opportunity and slipping through before more police arrived there. It was all over by about 8am — and I still had a whole fun-filled day ahead.
Good morning, boys’n'girls! Hanging out and drumming at Franklin Square while waiting for folks to show up for the ill-fated wildcat march.
Whose streets? The march heads out of Franklin Square, taking the street at 14th and K Streets NW. After turning north on Vermont Avenue, they encountered a police motorcycle blockade at L Street. Anyone who didn’t notice the first cops appearing back at the other end of the block quickly enough would find themselves in a world o’trouble.
Are you ready for some football? While it probably seems dull to most of you, to me this is a memorable and iconic image — the moment I realized the cop at my left was distracted by some action to his right (out of the frame), stepped away and left a huge gap for me to dash through. Up until this moment, I was worried that I was nabbed for sure — and suddenly, daylight! He who hesitates is lost, as the old poet wrote.
All she wrote… Some moments later, more cops arrived, the line firmed up, and people trying to sneak through the gaps were being collared and shoved back into the crowd.
It’s a gas! Yep, that’s tear gas drifting through the foreground, there. By this time, there was nothing left for the people trapped on that block to do but wait around for the buses to arrive to haul them to the lockup.