More on MyMPN: Sweeping The Globe, #MillionMaskMarch Impossible To Ignore
by David Rushton
Remember, Remember the Fifth of November
This is the rallying cry of a passionate organization or, maybe more appropriately, a non-organization of activists known as Anonymous, or “Anon.” As a collective, Anonymous doesn’t consider itself a group or organization with any designated leaders or followers. Anon is no one, yet it’s everyone.
So, who is Anonymous if they’re comprised of no one in particular, and what is the purpose of rallying together on a large scale every 5th of November in cities all over the world?
This is what makes Anon such a novel concept. Instead of specific groupings of activists who come together over a single shared interest, Anon invites and encourages any and all to take a passionate stance against injustices or oppressions that exist in our world. Being that Anonymous is world-wide, the range of issues being presented is vast.
On November 5th of each year, “Anons,” collectively masked with their iconic Guy Fawkes grins and armed with their poignant messages printed on hand-made signs, set out to participate in Million Mask Marches in their respective cities. The purpose of the march is to educate and inform citizens while simultaneously making a loud statement of dissent to the Establishment regarding issues such as violent foreign policies, disregard for the environment, the seemingly intentional crippling of economies by corporate giants and corrupt banking cartels, hidden genetically modified organisms in foods, the potential effects of vaccines, and other deep concerns that governments refuse to openly acknowledge to the public. Some other issues include activists’ questions regarding September 11th, chemtrails, and secret elite clubs such as The Bilderberg Group.
The following accounts outline our personal experiences at the 2014 Million Mask March in Washington, D.C.
“Mr. Obama, come out! We’ve got some things to talk about!”
by Caroline Scullin
This was my first year participating in the Million Mask March in Washington, D.C. As an activist; I looked forward to this day the way a child looks forward to their birthday or Christmas.
The day did not disappoint. Upon arrival it wasn’t difficult to pinpoint the location of my fellow protesters. Aside from megaphones blaring, there were troves of police, secret service, and homeland security officials anxiously making their way to the White House. In their words, I guess you could say I tailed them!
I was pleasantly surprised to find hundreds of people in masks. Many were carrying signs, many were live streaming the event. The live streamers explained they had to become the media, as the mainstream media would most assuredly ignore the event completely. Sadly they were correct. Aside from RT (Russia Today) and Reuters, no other news corporation made an appearance at the large protest.
The marchers were protesting on a wide variety of issues. Public grievances with the status quo were on display in the form of colorful signs held high in front of the White House. They presented messages against police militarization and brutality, money in politics, NSA surveillance, debt, drones, racism, fracking, whistleblower prosecution, and an overall erosion of the freedoms that once defined our country. There were also signs that indicated support of the Palestinian people, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Mike Brown and Aaron Swartz.
One of the most powerful moments of the day happened relatively quickly. Protesters in front of the White House were facing 2 police barriers, the white house fence, 4-5 police officers behind the fence holding at least 2 German Shepherds and what looked to be a sniper on the roof. I also have to mention on our side of the fence the police presence was immense. They were everywhere; to say the atmosphere was tense would be the understatement of the year. In no uncertain terms, what I saw was intimidation and overkill.
We faced the White House, held our signs high and all chanted in unison “Mr. Obama, Come out! We’ve got some things to talk about!” We chanted and chanted, but no one came out. It made for an emotional scene.
Realizing that the President would not be making an appearance, we marched to the Capitol building where again an enormous police force stood behind barriers.
This was a very intense stop on our march. Protesters, most likely frustrated by not being heard, ripped the barriers away from the police tasked with keeping us behind them. I’m a peace activist and this type of provocation was not on my to-do list as I don’t view this type of behavior to be in line with peace. So I moved to the back and begged people to remain composed and peaceful. Some didn’t value my sentiments, but many agreed this was not the best way to achieve our goals.
Two men in suits appeared at the top of the building to watch the chaos below. They were too far away to be able to recognize who they were; but not too far to see they were laughing. It was infuriating.
We then marched onwards through the streets of Washington. The march shut down traffic all through D.C., although I saw no media reports indicating we were even there.
Many protesters stormed the FBI building. Armed guards stood in front and rebuffed them with shoves and pushes. Emotions ran high, and the fear was palpable.
Frustrated, the angry protesters rejoined us and we marched onward to the Federal Reserve which, of course, was heavily guarded complete with German shepherds. Per the trend, no one who worked there would come out. Eventually exhausted from marching for miles and shouting, we traversed back to the Whitehouse and said goodbye to our newfound friends.
What I witnessed on November 5th is a microcosm of American politics and how it operates. The citizens of this country are screaming at the top of our lungs but the people we elected and even the media won’t bother to acknowledge our presence, let alone our concerns. The only people who were there to “hear us out” were carrying pepper spray and billy clubs and in most cases refused to even speak to us.
Politicians are utilizing the police state not to protect the American citizens but to insulate themselves from having to hear the real issues affecting Americans.
It’s a struggle to reconcile the America learned about in history class with the America we reside in today. That being said, until the American citizens voices are heard, acknowledged and acted upon, we will march on.
Of Masks, marches and millions
by David Rushton
I arrived at the Washington Monument at 9am where people were already gathering. All around me I heard rumblings of heated and interesting conversations ranging from the GOP in Congress to fracking.
Being a participant as well as an observer in this event, I wanted to ask this diverse group of Anons, “Why?” Why is this march so important to your cause?
The responses were always illuminating, yet similar:
“For the people. We need to wake up the people.”
“We’re fighting oppression and corruption in the government. We’re trying to find solutions.”
But perhaps the most simple and frank of all the answers I had received was given by an Anon who, arguably, summed up the entire mission of the Million Mask March by saying: “We want to Un-Fuck the world.”
Over the next half hour, I observed scores of people arriving all proudly waving flags and signs that drew immediate attention to almost every social issue I could have imagined. This brought a sobering and regretful realization that there were no mainstream local or national U.S. news channels present. That meant that countless citizens were not allowed to witness such a grand display of our First Amendment rights expressed all over the nation’s capitol.
It also acutely highlighted the discrepancy between what was plainly demonstrated as important to the People and what the Establishment chose to deem newsworthy. Coverage of the event was left to Russia Today, the alternative media, several citizen journalists, and livestreamers who combine their smartphone cameras with the power of social media.
This writer’s personal observation is that it is the day after Election Day, so this could have been a factor in the high attendance.
The peaceful march was, ironically, kicked off as a protestor was being loaded into a holding vehicle for allegedly having a concealed knife in his pocket. Nothing indicated this man was intending to use the knife or any other form of violence. However, when questioned about the incident, officers responded with “no comment.”
A common tactic of any protest march is causing traffic delays. Traffic delays serve two purposes in a protest: to have a captive audience among drivers and bystanders as well as to force government officials to pay attention by way of intentional civil disobedience. Again, the goal is to draw attention to important issues and to inform the public. Our first of many traffic delays that day was on the intersection of H street and 15th. Chants are used heavily at such opportunities by many protestors.
Chants such as “Who’s house? Our house!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” are among the norm and could be heard by many. I found one of the most notable and relevant chants to be: “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” which harkened to the Ferguson, MO protestors and their ongoing struggle with police brutality originating with the shooting of an unarmed black youth named Michael Brown this past August.
Upon our arrival at the White House, the electricity in the air was palpable. In addition to the Anons, there was now an audience of spectators. We also came across other, smaller protest groups as well. I spoke with one of the activists, Philipos Melaku-Bello, and asked him what his thoughts were on Anonymous.
He stated that, being an activist since the seventies, he felt that groups like Anonymous and, a politically similar group known as the Occupy Movement, were the “grandchildren” of his movements mostly, the Los Angeles peace movements.
He shared with me that seeing all these young activists was “inspirational” and that he was happy to see technology such as social media taking a major role in growing activist movements such as Anonymous.
I also spoke with a small group of spectators and asked them how they perceived Anonymous and the Million Mask March:
“Like nothing I have ever seen, [but I think] they need more power, more people to get up and protest.”
When I encouraged them to join in, they just laughed nervously (sheepishly?). While it seems people may very well be all for Anonymous and other political movements, there is often a heavy reluctance to actually participate. Unlike the overwhelming camaraderie Melaku-Bello likely remembers from an earlier generation, there is now a sense of apathy or learned helplessness among Millennials. It is while here I noticed a fair amount of talent among speech makers and musicians, various impromptu speeches and songs dedicated to peace on earth, and songs that call to reform the government. It was inspiring in a sense that it showed to me that not all people were as apathetic as those who just go along with whatever is the least inconvenient.
Getting back, we were on the move again, this time to the US Capitol, however we made at stop at the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
The resentment toward the Federal Bureau of Investigation was expressed quite well and made for some excellent points, if a little heavy handed. The mood around the FBI building was livid — and this writer will admit slightly terrifying but, then again, most protests aren’t catered to my sensitivities — and it doesn’t surprise me at all. After all the FBI has a lot to explain for to the average citizen.
We stayed for a good 10 to 15 minutes before moving on to the US Capitol. On the way, we come across another protest group, Project Unity, which has a similar objective as the MMM: to bring attention to the ills of society. Meanwhile we stopped at a building which had inscribed on its walls the First Amendment of the Constitution. This Amendment established the right to free speech.
How fitting for a group of people to protest here and make our voices heard. We are not alone; various people have been very supportive via cheering and honking horns. But is it enough in my eyes? I feel, and you may agree, you also need to show more than just being caught in the rush of the moment. We also need to educate others and show a better way of life outside of street protests.
Moving on we continued onto the Capitol building. As we reached the Capitol the mood was picking up; we were nearing the heart of the US government, the home of our lawmakers.
Cops were out in full force swearing to uphold the safety and security of the government. We reached the flimsy barricades set up. As long as no one antagonized the police, the barricades would’ve been fine.
Guess again! Zealous Anonymous members ripped away the barricades and made sure the police knew that we had grievances. We made sure not antagonize cops to the point they took violent action, but we made our displeasure known about the Federal government.
As I look on I can see suited people looking down on us who I cannot identify but rest assured they know they’re dealing with an unhappy group of US citizens. Meanwhile, after the fact, I found out another protestor had been arrested at the Capitol.
As we move on, emotions were riding high and people were riding off the stand we made at the US Capitol. The plan is now to move towards the Federal Reserve, however as with most protests, they don’t go according to plan.
Along the way we made a stop to both halt traffic and rest our laurels. Here I learned more about fracking (way of extracting natural gas through using underground drills) and fluoride (a supposedly safe chemical used in water treatment) in a short time.
We also made a brief stop at the Internal Revenue building. While it’s much fun asking where our money is spent, more important matters await us.
Here near an intersection is where the groups diverged: some want to reach the Fed through a tunnel and others want to reach the Fed through the streets. I take the streets and I am glad I did: I find out that a protester got hurt by a callous driver who was in a hurry. Later I find out, through people who had been there, that the license plate was taken but police took no action.
While marching to the Fed I happened to witness the end result of a stun gun attack.
According to one Anon, a person was stopped for having pepper spray, and police stopped the protester though he attested to his legal right of owning the pepper spray and his reasons. He was forced to place his rucksack on a Department of Homeland Security vehicle. It was while the officer was distracted that the protester had grabbed his bag and the officer withdrew his stun gun and fired at the protestor.
This is where I came in. I saw the protestor getting arrested. What didn’t help matters is the fact that others were trying to stir the pot, so to speak. Anonymous has advocated time after time that all protests should be peaceful. This should have been no different but the people who were arguing with the police did not help the cause, they merely added fuel to a fire. There was a particularly vocal protestor who seems very eager to goad others but this is merely speculation on my part.
Shortly afterwards, I also came across another arrest. The details are very scant and unclear. What is known is that the arrest occurred after the first protestor was stunned. Supposedly this protestor was chased. This was later confirmed by various footage and reviews of live streams. I saw the protester lead away in cuffs followed by a large amount of DHS and DC police.
Meanwhile the protesters stopped at another building, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to protest the arrest of an activist detained inside.
Personal observations thus far: activists are a vocal group. You harm or hurt an activist and others will come to your aid or at least make sure you have enough evidence for any legal action due to this age of phones and livestreams and recording devices.
We marched to the Federal Reserve but, due to extenuating circumstances, I had to miss what happened there. However, through observations and later investigation, I was told it was a rousing success. I caught up with the protests towards the final leg of my journey: a return to the White House, but there was another traffic/rest stop.
From various observations, it was clear the people were tired and achy from this march. What I felt from everyone was a sense of accomplishment and a sense of, dare I say, glory. People were happy to be voicing their opinions in the heart of their government.
Am I sure if it I’ll change anything? Yes, by bringing the issues to light despite a lack of “big TV’ coverage that is easily circumvented through the Internet.
High hopes for activism in this day and age were met.
We moved on to the White House and it is here where my experiences with the Million Mask March come to an end, a protest that will remain with me for a good while.
My feelings on Anonymous are as follows: they are socially aware, they encourage camaraderie. Anonymous wants to wake people up, they want to help people in whatever they feel is a serious issue. Is Anonymous an engine for change? Yes I sincerely believe it is.
So what to take from this? Always trust the people who come from the Internet to help, for they are many and they are legion.
*Postscript: As I walked to where I parked my car. I could still hear the various chants and cries and roars of the protesters, note this was at around 6:30pm. I left the White house at 4:00
And special thanks to my best friend friend and protest buddy Caroline.
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.