Here's how this was advertised.
Direct Action to Stop the War plans creative protests on Tuesday, February 5, the day of the California primary, to demand the Democratic presidential candidates take stronger anti-war positions.
Activists, who plan much larger protests on March 19, the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will use humor and strong visuals to call into question the supposed anti-war credentials of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
(Hillary text removed)
“Barack Obama wants to end the war in Iraq only to escalate it in Afghanistan and attack Pakistan,” said Vern Nuanez. “He recently wrote a letter justifying Israel’s refusal to allow fuel, food and medicine into Gaza, where people are literally starving and freezing to death.”
So the way they did this, they sent people on the west side of the bay to the Hillary Clinton offices and on the east side of the bay to the Obama offices in Oakland. This is where I was. As you read this, keep in mind this got a lot of press including the lead item on the front page of IndyBay. DASW in 2002-2003 held some really major protests that got a lot of attention. They apparently reformed the organization in the summer of 2007, and six months later they're holding actions again. Let's see how they did.
There's a lot of cool buildings in this part of Oakland - the Trib is the local newspaper.
I'm walking to the plaza where everybody was supposed to meet. The Obama HQ is just across the street so they could march over together in force. Here's Oakland PD, so this must be a good sign. (I eventually counted eight officers).
Here's the people gathering. There are three people with green hats who were "legal observers" - their URL was something about being activism lawyers, I didn't catch it. This is where I was confused - DASW put together protests in 2003 where 5-20 thousand people showed up, depending on what number you believe. And not counting the observers there are what, seven or eight? Same as Oakland PD? One cop per protester? It was supposed to be a short protest from 5-6pm and it was 5:10 so maybe this is just to greet latecomers and the bulk is already across the street at Obama HQ.
Well, there's some folks with signs next to Obama HQ, but they're Obama folks, not DASW folks.
OK, I'm right in front of Obama HQ, looking towards the plaza where the protest is "gathering". That ba sign and stairs on the left lead to the subway (BART) - there are thousands of commuters right beneath our feet who could pop up on their way home for 15 minutes and support these guys... but nobody does.
OK, now I'm just killing time.
Did I mention the lovely buildings? And it's getting dark...
I've circled around and the gal on the left used to be with the protesters and has left. The remaining protesters are sitting under the flag.
Zoom in a bit. Remember, the three holding green hats are just observers.
Rest of the plaza.
Very, very empty.
Half way into this poor excuse for a protest they stationed two folks at the curb across from the Obama supporters. Now remember, this protest "will use humor and strong visuals" to make their point. That's IT?
Overview - left corner, protesters, right corner Obama supporters. That's just how it looked to passing cars, if you didn't know it was happening you would never notice. As far as I can tell they never did cross the street to the Obama side, where they probably would have been outnumbered (there were quite a few supporters in the lobby). (Update: see the end of the report - they eventually marched into the Obama offices so they could claim they did something).
Just as I was leaving (at about 5:40 after wasting half an hour on these guys) a third corner was filled. So final score, Hillary 1, Obama 2, Protesters 8, Oakland PD 8.
Update: I was told that they eventually switched to plan B and got up the courage to walk into the Obama office and wave some signs and present a list of demands. Then promptly got kicked out. By then the police had long since gone home realizing they weren't going to get any overtime out of this one. Apparently they're declaring it a victory. Does this look to you like a victory? Was it really more effective than, oh, faxing a copy of their demands over? Especially since it's just some random campaign office, it's not like Obama himself is actually back there or whatever.
Oh, well, maybe they'll do better at the scheduled March 19th protests. We'll see!
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