It’s begun. Activists – that is, ordinary people compelled by circumstance or conviction to take action – have begun assembling on the National Mall in Washington DC for three days of marches through the halls of power to “Take Back the Capitol” from the banks and corporations who run the place now.
The largest contingent of activists apparently comes from Houston – some 250 people, according to one member of the group I met in the dinner line: soul food from Madam Organ's restaurant in the Adams Morgan neighborhood (www.madamorgans.com).
It’s in the mid-50s (but feels colder) and overcast, which is as good as the weather’s expected to get. The forecasters forecast two days of rain. It’s unlikely that will dampen anyone’s spirits, however, much less soak out the action. People are here to send a message, and a few raindrops or a few billion are not going to stop that.
People have been arriving all day, and many have gone off by now to the churches, union halls, homes and other volunteered accommodations. The Occupy DC encampment that wasn’t invaded the other day is just a few blocks away, but the only tents here on the Mall are those of Take Back the Capitol itself: large and white like a great pale circus, with names like the American Dream Tent, the 99% Tent and Democracy Pavilion. Three of them are “classrooms” for trainings and topical workshops.
The only tents with plain ol’ descriptive names are the “Medical Tent” and the “Media Tent.” I am here as part of the SEIU New Media team (I’m actually with SEIU Local 1021 in Oakland, California) that’s arranged for 16 laptops and two printers for bloggers, reporters and anyone else who wants to tweet, blog or share the event with friends and publications. If there's one question on almost everyone's mind today, it's not about weather or lodging or even corporations; it's "Where can I recharge my phone?" Charging stations have been installed in many of the tents.
SEIU is just one member of the American Dream Movement that’s organizing this week of action, along with MoveOn.org, the Center for Community Change, and other progressive, labor and faith-based organizations.
I will be posting diaries when I can here on the Daily Kos (one a day, at least), and tweeting the action live @seiu1021, with photos. You can follow the official event tweets @99inDC; and mine, theirs and everyone else’s at #99inDC. Follow in Spanish @99enDC (Recuperar_Capitolio), although at this writing they haven’t tweeted anything yet.
Under the banner of “Take Back the Capitol,” the expected thousands of participants will march on the Capitol and members of Congress on Tuesday, and on K Street and the offices of corporate lobbyists on Wednesday. On Thursday there’s a national prayer vigil at Upper Senate Park, and a candlelight vigil in the Liberty Tent tonight, where I’m heading as soon as I’ve finished this diary.
Judging from the miniature “city” of huge cardboard office buildings assembled and painted at the Imagination Station tent, it’s going to be a very theatrical week. Stay tuned.