2011 04 11 - 7881 - Washington DC - DC Rights Protest - Yvette Alexander
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In response to the Congressional budget debacle which proved that DC is but a colony -- prone to being singled out unlike any other city in the country -- a number of activists, elected officials, and general citizens came out in force upon the grounds of Capitol Hill.
The crowd first formed on the sidewalk, but after some opening remarks by elected officials and activists: they quickly spilled into the street. The Capitol Police had been on hand & I'd thought it amusing that a couple were taking photos & videos... it wasn't until I saw the wristbands come out when I realised these weren't officers enjoying the moment; they were recording evidence.
With many minutes of warning, large portions of the group shifted over the sidewalk; whilst a core of dedicated supporters -- including our Mayor, a number of councilmembers, and members of DC Vote -- remained behind to block the roadway. The officers began to surround the group & repeated their warnings to get back on the sidewalk or face arrest.
Now in all fairness to the Capitol Police: they were doing their job. They were quite courteous about it & the protest was similarly jubilant right back. One woman was first to be bound, soon followed by several other activists. Then came Muriel Bowser: first councilmember to be arrested.
In general, I tend to dislike political grandstanding... but this was different. If our council was being arrested by our own police, I'd think it a cheesy photo op... but now our locally-elected officials were being arrested by the very forces we were out to protest: the Feds. This wasn't a mere photo op arrest; this was actually a legitimate arrest... the kind of thing that goes on your record; the kind of thing you spent a night in jail for.
Now granted, I don't expect anyone will be in jail longer than tomorrow; I'd be surprised if any were still locked up by midnight tonight. But it was Councilmember Bowser's arrest which really hit a moment... you could see the look on her face was of some worried concern: someone who had never been arrested before & didn't show up here today expecting to be arrested. As she was placed into the police van: her look of concern changed to a bit more worry. I mean this as no knock against Councilmember Bowser's committment; rather I felt it really help to humanise the entire event. It made me respect her all the more.
Yvette Alexander stood right beside us for quite some time, complicated in that she didn't have her ID on her. While it was entertaining to see our top officials being frisked, it was also quite entertaining that our easily-recognisable councilmember needed her ID... prompting a standerby to call one of her staffers with the best introduction I've ever heard over a phone: "Hi, your councilmember has been arrested." Also, kudos to Councilmember Alexander for going to jail in high heels!
There is a lot I can complain about with the council in general; and certainly with individual councilmembers & even the mayor. Heck, that's what politicians are for: you're not supposed to always like them. But this was an opportunity to set aside some of those issues (frankly, I'd say DC was glad to have a unifying moment after the past couple weeks) and cheer on our own brothers & sisters as they stood up in support of our rights.
It was certainly a proud moment to be a DC resident and a fine boost to our collective esteem after several weeks of turmoil within our local & federal levels of government. It's aggravating that my support for small & local government is inhibited by those in Congress whom advocate small & local government. If I wanted to live in a colony, I'd have moved to Williamsburg.