After about an hour and a half of sleep, we were awake again and getting ready to run across the city under the cover of night to our meeting place, at which we were all supposed to be at 6:00 AM. Im sure it had a lot to do with the lack of sleep, but I dont think Ive ever been as nervous as when I was strapping a bicycle chain around my waist, imagining what it would be like to be completely immobile as cops in riot gear descended upon us. I was hyperventilating, and quaking through my whole body. However, our little covert run calmed me down a lot, and I was in much better spirits once we hooked up with the rest of the hundred or so people who would be taking on our intersection. The call was made, and we marched down H street as a single chanting mass "there aint no power like the power of the people cause the power of the people dont stop." What a trip it was, to be screaming at the top of ones lungs, marching down the street locked arm in arm, approaching a line of police in riot gear as helicopters whizzed overhead. We got to the barricade, backed up several feet, and began to lock down in the middle of the intersection. Locking down involved running a bike lock around ones waist, twisting it behind your back in a figure "8" fashion, and running the second loop around anothers waist. The next pair would then intertwine their locks with the previous, and the process continued as we grouped ourselves in concentric circles there were about 13 of us who locked down. We then sat down and weaved a 20 cord through our locks, just as a kicker, and waited for the worst.
The worst never came. I had heard enough Seattle horror stories to really expect that we would be at least arrested for sure that day, if not severely beaten, tear gassed, and pepper sprayed. Not that those things didnt happen at other intersections, but our group was pretty much left alone. We had an amazing support group - those of us in lockdown ended up having to turn away food because we were offered so much. When the sun came out, our support folks fashioned a sun shade out of ponchos. There were constant cheerleaders leading chants and songs, and anytime there was even a hint that police might be on their way, or that a large parade of protestors was coming through, we would immediately have two rings of soft blockades circling us for protection. I realize now that, had we wanted to risk it, we could have easily taken the barricade in front of us it was protected by no more than 10 cops who spent most of the time with their helmets on the ground, although they werent too receptive to conversation, and refused the oranges we offered them.
As the day progressed, the scene began to resemble less that of a protest and more of a carnival. There was a constant parade of people traveling the perimeter of the barricades street puppets, drum circles, the radical cheerleaders, and the "black bloc," a large group of kids wearing black from head to toe, waving red flags of anarchy, and often pushing a wheeled dumpster along with them (used to push in barricades).
Even though we were having a fairly good time, we were being highly effective as well. From most reports I heard, our action delayed the meetings by at least four hours. We managed to turn away a good number of people trying to get in through the barricade each time someone was spotted wearing business attire, they would be singled out to chants of "delegate, delegate," confronted by a wall of activists, and politely asked to take the day off. Although I was not facing the street to see, I remember hearing at least once cheers that we had turned away a large van attempting to take delegates to the meetings. Apparently, the next intersection down from us got the opportunity to blockade Mike Moore (president of the WTO) inside the barricades he wanted to get out, they wouldnt let him. Before I knew it, seven and a half hours had gone by, and we decided to break up our lockdown at around 2:00 pm. Most of our group headed back for some shut-eye, but a few of us wanted to remain part of the action. We went to the mall to check out the legal rally, where we promptly fell asleep.
That evening, there was a huge consensus meeting (about 300 people, at least) in regards to what Mondays activities would entail. The facts were as follows: part of the reason why the meetings ended up taking place is that the cops got the jump on us, and bussed in many of the delegates at 5:00 am. It was made aware to us that they were shooting for shortly after 4 for Monday. Also, they had expanded their barricades to include a 100 block square essentially the entire core of DC. Given the fact that many people could only stay for the weekend, and the size of the new perimeter, we knew we couldnt pull off the same sort of blockade-style action.
There was a pretty definite split at the meeting between those who thought more direct action was in order, such as blockading the delegates inside their hotels, and those who figured we should do a more media-focused event, and work off our victories in the spin war. Everyone was exhausted, and we were trying to plan an entirely new action in one night to follow up one that took months to organize. The meeting certainly tried peoples patience for the consensus process. It was finally decided that we should all converge on the mall the next morning and take it from there, possibly doing a parade of some sort, but maybe not. Those who wanted to do a little more rabble rousin in the early am met on their own to figure out what they were going to do.
The next little bit, Im kind of in the dark on. I heard that a lot of the folks who tried to meet in the early morning for direct action were arrested for just walking around. I dropped off most of our group as close to the mall as I could get, and then drove the van out of the city to find parking so it wouldnt get towed. Unfortunately, in that process I locked the keys in the van, and it was a big rigamarole to get them out. So, I didnt get back to where all the action was until around noon. When I got there, I found about 5000-6000 people all converged on pennsylvania avenue and 20th, about 1.5 blocks from the imf. I also noticed police blocking off every intersection leading away from the area save one, and more cops arriving by the vanload. There was a lot of tension in the air. Apparently, while I was gone, everyone melded into this giant parade that just wandered around dc, shutting off streets, until they finally converged at this spot. According to another member of our group, "C" who had been on the front lines of this parade, the group at one point had risen up with their arms outstretched (showing that they were non-violent) at stated to the police "we are going to cross this line," to which the police immediately responded by whacking everyone with their billy clubs and spraying pepper spray. After the medics made their run around, the front lines began negotiations with the cops.
>After some discussion with the group, "H" and I decided we had come to dc to do cd, and goshdarnit, we were gonna go in there and be a part of whatever happened. We stocked up on teargas equipment (handkerchiefs soaked in vinegar, goggles, etc.), got rid of our valuables, memorized some phone numbers, and wandered into the crowd. Despite the fact that it honestly looked and felt like all hell was going to break loose, nothing really went on. Eventually, we began receiving updates that the protestors in the front lines were negotiating with the police. (By the way, the way in which information was passed through large crowds was pretty slick, too .one person would shout "repeat after me," and all within earshot would do so the message would then be broadcast in the same manner all those who couldnt hear the original speaker would hear everyone else shouting, and they would then shout the message as well, so information would radiate out from the original speaker. This method allowed one person to quickly send information to 5,000. Way cool.) We all waited in the pouring rain as the negotiations were set: the police took off their gas masks and put on their badges (which apparently were not visible previously), and we all sat down and waited. The barriers were then removed, and we peacefully crossed the line in rows of about fifteen at a time, marching towards the imf/wb, and were then arrested. This was around 2:00 in the afternoon on Monday.