Instead of a monument or statue or other identified attraction which is my usual destination, I instead rode to an event during yesterday’s lunchtime bike ride. I attended the “Million Mask March” here in D.C., which was a protest organized by the hacktivist group Anonymous, scheduled to be held simultaneously “in 671 different cities” throughout the world. I found out about the march about an hour and a half before it began when a security bulletin was sent to me at work, and since I was already here in D.C. and always open to new experiences, I grabbed one of the bikes that I keep in the parking garage of my office building and took an early lunch break to go check it out for myself.
According to the event’s Facebook page, the demonstration was intended to address a myriad of topics and issues, to include: “Major Corruption In Every Government; Education Reform; The Trans-Pacific Partnership; The National Defense Authorization Act; Militarized Police State; Police Brutality; Wars Of Aggression; Genetically Modified Organisms; Free Palestine; 911 Truth; Health Care Reform; Houselessness; Starvation; Human Rights; Alternative Energy; 2nd Amendment; Stop Paying Taxes; Fukushima; Bradley now Chelsea Manning; Jeremy Hammond; Aaron Schwartz; Barrett Brown, and; Freedom!” But demonstrators also voiced concerns about additional topics as diverse as buying only locally-grown food, or not shopping on Black Friday.
The turnout wasn’t quite what was expected, with pre-event estimates ranging from one to twenty-five thousand local participants. In the end there were, at most, only a couple hundred people, many wearing the trademark Guy Fawkes mask popularized by the “V for Vendetta” movie, who marched in the event here. While the diversity of issues may be an attraction for some, I think the lack of focus and specificity, much like the Occupy D.C. Movement that camped out in protest in McPhereson Square a few years ago, may ultimately be what kept the size of the crowd smaller than it might have been. I think it also, for the most part, inhibited the group’s message from getting out to anyone outside the group of protestors themselves.
The group met at the Washington Monument, where I caught up with them, and then proceeded to march, under police escort, to the White House. After conducting a demonstration in front of the north portico of the White House, the group later in the day marched to the U.S. Capitol Building, with stops along the way, such as at FBI Headquarters. Although protesters were supposed to follow a specific route, they were characteristically unpredictable, and some broke off from the main group causing minor chaos with afternoon commuter traffic. But despite some minor incidents, the demonstrators here in D.C. were for the most part law-abiding and non-violent, which cannot be said of all the other groups in other cities yesterday.
Despite the low number of participants, however, it was an worthwhile event with an interesting group of people, as you will be able to see in these photographs that I took along the way.