Saturday, February 26, 2011

Persistence is the Key

And it is part of what we didn't have during the Anti-Iraq-War demonstrations and uprisings until Herself, the now widely reviled and despised Cindy Sheehan, came along. (Cindy goes back almost to the beginning of the org I was then a part of, Dean for America, in California's Central Valley and Bay Area -- Cindy was concentrating on the Valley, though, and would come up all the time to meet and give talks long before her national presence emerged...)

As for persistence in the current imbroglio, right this minute I'm watching live the continuing protests in the Wisconsin in the Capitol Rotunda in Madison. The numbers may have diminished somewhat from their heights when time was, but there are still plenty of folks there, plenty of energy, and plenty of noise being made against Scott Walker and his Evility. That's what it takes.

This afternoon, I was at the MoveOn Solidary Rally at the California State Capitol, rush-organized at the last minute, and I half-thought that Oh, My, there would be fewer people in attendance than at the rally than on Tuesday this week. But no. In the end, there were somewhat more, perhaps 4,000-5,000 as opposed to the 2,500-3,000 who attended on Tuesday. It will be reported, though -- assuming it is reported -- as approximately the same number turning out, because the physical organization at the Capitol was somewhat different, and the crowd-size looked pretty much the same.

The difference, clearly apparent, was in the number of TeaBaggers attending in their Special Space over across the street, protected by horse police and patrol cars and what not from the taunts and mockery of the Union supporters. As opposed to Tuesday's "counter-protest", when there were a couple of tens of 'Baggers across the street, today there were as many as a hundred or so, and my, my did they ever mock and disparage. Hm. It was a wonder to behold. Such a wonder that the Union supporters could barely contain their laughter and eyerolling. The police seemed to expect some kind of altercation, too. Very odd.

Well, there wasn't one. I took some pictures and movies of the main rally and the 'Baggers. I've had some trouble uploading (especially videos), so I don't know how this is going to work. We'll give it a shot!

It was good to see some of the same people, but many new ones too... Whatever else happens, we must persist if we are to win, and we must win. On Wisconsin!

The rally in Madison as I was typing:

Notice comment that crowd is thinning. This will be a continuing issue.

Some of my own pics from today:

The USUncut people -- who were rallying down the street -- came to the Union rally at the Capitol. Yay.

There were a couple of Guy Fawkes Masked Avengers in the crowd. Heh.


Note on estimating crowd sizes: My estimates of the number of participants in the Solidarity Rallies at the California State Capitol this week are somewhat higher than others. Most of the other estimates I've seen are saying "a couple of thousand" turned out on Saturday and about the same number on Tuesday. I say 4,000-5,000 on Saturday, 2,500-3,000 on Tuesday. How come?

As you might suspect, I've been involved in numerous protest actions and rallies at the Capitol over the years, more than I can count! It's actually fairly easy to estimate crowd sizes because the West Front of the Capitol and the park that surrounds it is subdivided into sections, and over time, you learn how many people can be accommodated in each section. By observing how full each section is, it's pretty simple to estimate crowds.

The two rallies last week took place on the West Front, or West Steps, of the Capitol, but they utilized different sections of the front steps area. There is a broad terrace directly in front of the steps that holds about five thousand people when it's packed pretty tight. Just below that is another smaller terrace that will hold about 3,000-3,500, again packed tight. Below that is a lawn area bordered by sidewalks that extends almost to 10th Street. Packed tight, it will hold about 10,000.

So. The rally on Tuesday did not use the upper terrace at all. The rally took place on the lower terrace and the lawn. The lower terrace was pretty well packed, but not tight, and the lawn was not tightly packed at all. The crowd thinned to nearly nothing about half-way down the lawn. Ergo, my estimate was that there were about 1,500 on the terrace, and another 1,500 on the lawn. Simple.

The rally on Saturday was focused on the upper terrace, but only about half of it was used to accommodate the crowd. It was pretty well packed. Ergo, my estimate was about 2,500 on the upper terrace. The lower terrace was less packed, but there were quite a few people there, too. Another 1,500 or so. There weren't many on the lawn, but I would say there were at least 500 at the peak of the rally, plus another couple of hundred on the 10th Street sidewalk observing the 'Baggers and rolling their eyes at them. Ergo, total attendance in the 4,000-5,000 range.

I have seen and participated in rallies at the Capitol that attracted 25,000 (but were reported only as "thousands.") And there was one some time back that filled the whole Mall from the Capitol to the Tower Bridge -- 10 blocks -- that was estimated at 100,000, though I think it was probably half again as many.

Crowd estimation isn't exactly a science, but it's not really that hard to do.


  1. "Obama, I walked for you. You said you'd walk with us."

    I like that one a lot. Another one there could be revised and put right next to it:

    "Barack Obama is a liar!"

  2. By the by, Ché, it's really nice to see you back at LibAm! I hadn't realized your weren't posting there because you lost the addy.

  3. Yez, lea-p, I liked that sign too. He was surprisingly well received. This crowd was not about to take shit from anybody, be it Jerry Brown, Scott Walker or Barack Obama.

    The absence of any Dem official at this rally really grated. Of course California's Democratic government, being broke and all, is in the process of screwing over its own public employees, primarily by attacking pay and benefits (here come more furloughs and major pension cuts for sure) not so much collective bargaining. But I wouldn't be surprised if that goes in the hopper too. An R Asseblyman has introduced legislation to strip collective bargaining rights from California public employees and Jerry Brown says he's all ears.

    The correct answer is simple: Tax the Rich, corporations, oil extraction, and financial transactions. Wah-lah, budget problems solved. But for whatever reason, "it is impossible." Only the poor, the marginal, and the working class can be made to pay. Only them. Grr.

    As for LibAm, I'm kind of embarrassed about the whole thing. I lost a whole bunch of bookmarks last year when I replaced computers. I'm still in the dark about some of them. I'm glad you and the other nice people over there have welcomed me back.

    doG only knows what y'all must have thought!