DD from A8 to A15
The convergence center opened on April 9, one week before the protest. Many smaller puppets were already made so we had a parade to celebrate the Convergence Center. About 150 local organizers and early outta'towners marched singing and dancing through surrounding neighborhoods. With banners, drums, trumpets, police escorts, and one Irishman on stilts we arrived at Malcolm X park for a huge concert/fundraiser. The park seemed like our turf that day, so safe. But throughout the week (because it is near the convergence center and used by affinity groups to meet) Malcolm X park became more infested with agents, police patrol, and helicopter surveillance. We were meeting on A15 and cops on motorcycles drove awkwardly through grass and around fountains to come within 10 feet of our circle.
The police had their own parades all week. Local residents said that police presence is never this permeating. Many felt the city was like a war zone, with the huge squads of bicycle cops, motorcycles, cars and helicopters teaming constantly. In public, I grew increasingly introverted (for me a rarity), walking swiftly with my hood up and my head down. They worked so hard to intimidate us that I felt the buildings and sidewalks had ears. Three times, seemingly normal people walked along side of me, and then I would notice a thin wire running from their ear to the inside of their shirt. We got 'em scared now! Why? Cause you can smell the revolution!
I was amazed all week by the incredible organization of the Mobilization. There were workshops all day everyday: Jail Solidarity, Non-Violence, puppet making, dance, Yoga, song, Issue forums on Globalization, consensus process, Medic training, so many more. At night I attended the "Spokes Council" meetings of up to 250 people. And yes, consensus was possible. I had never seen anything like it-- just pass a message up to your empowered spoke and they can speak for the group. When a decision needed to be made, we lay out the proposals so that empowered spokes could then take it back that night to their affinity groups to discuss, offer amendments, accept, or block. Everyone buzzing with excitement, reuniting with old friends, predicting outcomes of A16, SHARING, and creating.
The Check In hall was flooded with information and help- you could buy a T-shirt, find out when the next training was, or post a notice for a friend. There was a whole garage area for making the large puppets usually with about 20 busy bees hammering, painting, paper machéing?-- you could just stand there and soak up empowerment- DC was very strategic to shut down that space on A15. It was a big blow, but some were surprised it lasted as long as it did-we had back up sites immediately. All week the media was all over the place. Some of us were reluctant (with good reason) to be filmed, but it was balanced with camera friendly folks bent on aiming the media at our issues and not just our tin can drums. We were on the front page of the Washington Post everyday except one (Elian) of the 10 days I was there. Wednesday, at 4am!, we whizzed through DC to re-wrap the front page of 20,000 Washington Posts with a Mobilization parody on the IMF. Others in this Zine will address media coverage I'm sure. I loved making cheers, skirts, and pom-poms, and rounding up Radical Cheerleading squads. We did cheers in metros, restaurants, department stores, and at Farragut circle for 30 cops parked on their bikes (you know they loved us). Throughout the week you could go to a ton of other political actions: a banner drop attempt on Monday, Iraq sanctions lobbying, Free Chiapas rally, tax day action for Iraq, Global Network rally against nukes in space, School of the Americas lobbying and fast, Jubilee 2000, Prison Industry complex-I never even had time to go out for Ethiopian food L. On Saturday, we sent surprise press releases and at least 100 media outlets came to Doupont circle for our huge street theater performance. Big Success! Most important to me was the sense of community between all the activists. We were all there because we care to create a new path. As long as we keep building community, we will be an infrastructure to support the masses when consumer culture won't anymore.