By about 10:15 the crowd was at its maximum, I would guess anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500. Of course, perception is everything — a higher vantage point would have helped!. By that time I noticed the press doing the rounds through the crowd as well (there was also a static platform for the press right across the podium, behind the crowd).
I was off on the northern side of the mall, so they likely started at the South side and worked their way through the crowd. We had some outstanding inspirational speakers and very talented singers; the crowd responded enthousiastically. All in all, the three hours of standing up just flew by. I do hope someone will make some kind video record (DVD?) of the event available some time in the near future…
Of course we couldn’t have everything our way. By about 10:45 one of the organizers got on the podium to direct the stewards towards a commotion in the back, where some counter-protesters were getting too close. He asked the crowd not to interfere, but a sizeble number of basically did an about-face — mostly out of curiosity — but it must have made an impression because our “guests” ran off, I believe even before the stewards could get there.
Right after that we did get a successful infitration — one lady with a small sign got almost halfway through the crowd. Her attire was business-casual, which is probably how she slipped through without getting noticed. Once she was spotted, though, people around her engaged her in “spirited conversation” which attracted the attention of the stewards and a little later, one cop.
With the “virus” properly encased in a protective cocoon, she was basically neutralized, and as far as I know, stood there for quite a while. She did loose her sign though; one of the people on the podium tore it into little pieces and scattered it to the breeze — the crowd went wild!
The rally broke shortly after noon; we were advised that the anti-war crowd would not be marching until 13:30, which gave us all some time to get some food. I quickly made my way to Hard Rock because it was several blocks away from our assigned spot between 7th and 9th Streets on Pennsylvania. By 13:30 I was at the Navy Memorial — ready for the next event!
At about 14:30 Code Pink operatives suddenly materialized on the intersection of Pennsylvania and 7th. What the…? They certainly didn’t march up Pennsylvania to get there like they were supposed to! If they were trying to avoid the gauntlet, they failed — within less than a minute they were on the side of the street being “debated” by the GOE people.
Several cops showed up to extricate them… and we were still waiting on the main crowd. The only thing to stare at was a large bus straight out of the Sixties — garishly painted and festooned with people on the roof, treating everyone to what I would charitable describe as “performance art”. Frankly, my four-year-old grand-niece could run circles around these people.
Between 14:30 and 15:00 we got isolated dribbles of protesters wandering up and down the Avenue. Quite a few of them were walking right alongside the barriers even though they had the whole Avenue, which led to quite a bit of taunting back and forth. In the meantime police cruisers and bicycle cops were converging toward the West end of the Avenue, so we know the herd is approaching!
And there they finally came, just after 15:00 — but wait, who are those people with the large banner saying “DANGER! Leftist protesters trying to demoralize our troops?” They’re right up front, surely this crowd didn’t just have a mass reconversion to sanity? Oh, wait — look at the rest of them! I suspect the guys with the cautionary banner were Protest Warriors. Awesome!
I stayed around for another half hour to get a feel fior the crowd. They sounded (and acted) a little more subdued than last March, and the cookie-cutter yellow-and-black signs were not as massively in evidence. I had to get back home before the die-in, so unfortunately I missed all the excitement there. I guess there’s always next time…