Protesters Gone Wild

Welcome to Spring Fling in Washington. It might not be Daytona Beach, but Yee-haw and meet me in central booking!

On March 12, a reported 10 members with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance entered the Senate chamber and watched lawmakers in session below. The group caused a ruckus when its members staged a protest, making some “antiwar” statements and donning gauze over their heads to portray the “Ghosts of War.” Their T-shirts, emblazoned with ”We Will Not Be Silent” (nor will Inside the Headquarters), must be the equivalent of the protesters’ wet T-shirt contest.

The whole swallows and Capistrano cliché applies: Each year, the passionate and misinformed from across the country descend upon the nation’s capital to lobby (inform) members of Congress. Topics touted range from the war to global warming to World Bank monetary policies to closing the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Ga. (More on our buds at School of the Americas Watch in a later post.)

Protesters and protesting are a part of the fabric of life in and around the myriad headquarters in Washington. For quite some time Afghanistan and Iraq “antiwar” protesters would (legally) stand across from the Pentagon Metro escalators imploring those walking toward DoD headquarters not to enter. There have long been “antiwar” placards in windows in and around D.C. We have not seen them in other cities. (Maybe we’ve been on the dark side too long.)

Back to our Spring Flingers in the Senate gallery. Though they claim to be a nonviolent group, violence is not unknown in the halls of Congress (and we’re not talking politico-on-politico assaults, either). In 1835, an assassination attempt was made on then-President Andrew Jackson in the Capitol’s Rotunda. In March 1954, Puerto Rican nationalists opened fired in the House of Representatives, wounding five members of Congress. A bomb was detonated in the early 1970s, reportedly by those protesting U.S. policy in Laos. A 1983 bomb detonation signaled disfavor with the U.S. invasion of Grenada. In 1998, an armed intruder killed two Capitol Hill police officers inside the building.

Sure, it’s illegal to protest on government property, but that won’t stop these die-hard activists. Criminal record? Jail time? Hah! Badges of honor. Staging a protest in the Senate chambers? We get they’re trying to make a point, but some have grown weary of Washington as activist kegger.

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