Oh say, can you see
on the bridge named for Key
where the “Aqua Team” marched,
and a bunch were arrested…!
It was bone cold, rainy, sloppy, and miserable only a day before the official beginning of spring — in other words, your typical mid-March morning in DC. It was also a morning full of coordinated disobedience actions across DC marking the first day of Iraq War v2.0. Our group, nicknamed “Aqua Team”, was given the plum job of mobbing aboard a Metro to Rosslyn and taking Key Bridge early during rush hour.
Things turned out quite nicely. All the color-nicknamed groups gathered for their rallies at designated points around DC, not knowing where they were headed until it was actually time to go — a brilliant piece of strategy which greatly reduced the chances of any snitches in the crowd getting the word ahead to the cops — in our case, it was a meetup at Eastern Market, right in my backyard, then onto an Orange Line all the way across town to Rosslyn, where hilarity ensued…
February 15, 2003 was called by many “The Day The World Said ‘No’ To War”, and was reportedly the largest worldwide turnout for a single day of protest in history. Here’s a little “remastered” slice of what went down in New York City that day:
As I recall, the actual rally site and staging area for the march was somewhere around UN Plaza-ish, but owing to the staggering hugeness of the crowds converging — reportedly in the 1.5 million neighborhood — we never quite made it to the actual rally or march, and ended up just kind of flowing with the crowd through the streets, and spending most of the day hanging around East 50th and Third Avenue.
Here’s my friend Marianne from the Washington Action Group and the “Doghouse” puppet workshop in DC, being gratuitously harassed by NYPD goons for using a bamboo stick — apparently considered a “lethal weapon” that day — to hold up her sign. She was helped out by comrades in the crowd with some spare cardboard wrapping paper rolls.
Just a few weeks before,the then-director of Fatherland Security, a pug-ugly bastard named Tom Ridge (a guy who looked as if he could play a gangster in a ’40s film noir) advised the nation that their best defense against a chemical or biological attack was to — get this — seal off your doors and windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
I never could figure out how these people got onto the top of that Fritos truck. It was an oddly inspiring sight, though they seemed oblivious to the shouts of the crowd below to “throw us down a bag of Fritos, man!”
The Radical Cheerleaders belt one out towards the end of the afternoon. About this time, a breakaway unpermitted march had forced its way onto the streets and defied the police to march to a point near our location, succeeding by the strength of sheer numbers.
Seen above here is the famous Ben Ali’s Chili Bowl on U Street, a landmark of historic black DC, as spotted on the morning of Inauguration Day. Sadly, the window display is presented entirely without irony.
A little later, though, at Malcolm X Park… what better way to celebrate Martin Luther King’s Birthday than with an anti-drone warfare protest? Who would King bomb?